Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Greg Palast led a four-continent investigation of BP PLC for Britain’s television series Dispatches. From 1989-91, Palast directed the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding for Alaska Native villages.
Some deal. BP gets the gold mine and the public gets the shaft.
On Friday night, the lawyers for 120,000 victims of the Deepwater Horizon blow-out cut a deal with oil company BP PLC which will save the oil giant billions of dollars. It will also save the company the threat of a trial that could expose the true and very ugly story of the Gulf of Mexico oil platform blow-out.
I have been to the Gulf and seen the damage ”” and the oil that BP says is gone. Miles of it. As an economist …more
“They threatened me. Last night I got a call and they threatened me. If I talked.”
“Pig Man #2,” a pipeline industry insider, had a good reason to be afraid. He was about to blow the whistle on a fraud, information that could blow away the XL Keystone Pipeline project.
His information: The software for the crucial piece of pipeline safety equipment, the “Smart PIG,” has a flaw known to the industry but concealed from regulators.
The flaw allows cracks, leaks and corrosion to go undetected – and that saves the industry billions of dollars in pipe replacements. But there’s a catch. Pipes with cracks and leaks can explode and kill.
Federal law requires the oil and gas industry to run a PIG, a Pipeline Inspection Gauge, through big oil and gas pipelines. The robot porker, tethered to a GPS, beeps and boops as it rolls through, electronically squealing when it finds dangers.
Palast conducted a five-continent investigation of Big Oil for British TV’s premier current affairs program, Dispatches, and for BBC Worldwide. This report is based on the broadcast seen prime-time worldwide””but not yet in the USA.
Whistleblowers have told Britain’s “Dispatches” that the safety software on major US pipelines contains deliberate errors””and so pipelines can ”” and have ”” busted, leaked, exploded …and killed.
Congressional Republicans are holding extended unemployment benefits hostage until President Obama agrees to speed up approval to build the XL Keystone Pipeline. XL Keystone will slice down through the entire width of the USA, moving tar-sands oil from Canada to Houston.
The oil industry promises that the Pipeline will be safe. But the pipe is only safe if the PIG inside it can squeal.
Federal law requires the industry to run a diagnostic robot PIG, a Pipeline Inspection Gauge, that will squeal when something is wrong: a crack, dangerous corrosion, anything that might lead to a spill or explosion.
But PIGs are only as good as the software that tracks and analyzes their signals. And the software used by Big Oil has been compromised””deliberately. …more
Alternet.org – From the Arctic Circle, from inside a whale carcass (really), Greg Palast investigates…
There is a legend told among the Inupiat Alaskans who live above the Arctic Circle, “Etok Tames the Green People.” It goes like this:
In the Old Days, as today, the peoples on the edge of the Arctic Sea killed whales. It’s just what they do. It’s what they eat. But the Green People didn’t like that, and so the Green People set out one day in their fancy-ass black powerboat to stop the people of the Arctic Sea from doing their whale killing thing.
This is Alternet’s excerpt from Palast’s new book, Vultures’ Picnic. Note: Get the book this week and you’ll get all the videos from the interactive edition, no charge. Just go to VulturesPicnic.org, click on, “I’ve bought it, so send me the link to my free films.”
It was a long, long time ago in 1979. The elders tell us how the Green People showed up outside the Inupiat Native village of Kaktovik in their black powerboat and set out their stores of vegetables on the beach. The Green People only ate green food. The Green People then set off in their black powerboat on their blubber-saving mission, with a plan to block the Eskimo’s bidarka whaling ship. Quick as a Raven’s wink, they got lost in a fog bank and stuck in the ice sheet. Prepared, committed, and resourceful, the Green People set out their pup tents on the ice floe and slept, hoping for the fog to lift in the morning. …more
“If I had a machine gun, I’d kill every one of them white sons of bitches.” Makarka didn’t say, “white.” He used the unkind Alutiiq phrase, isuwiq-something, bleached seal.
As a bleached seal myself, I couldn’t blame him, not if you saw what I saw, the documents that British Petroleum buried deep as they could.
In my investigation of the blow-out on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, I knew key evidence could only be found in the files in the hands of the Chugach Natives of Alaska. The story involved the usual mix of big oil, suicide, murder, rock and roll, and fish. Whatever, I had to get from Asia to Alaska. To understand the full story, how America went, in two centuries, from British colony to British Petroleum colony we have to go way back to … …more
I’ve seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level.
Here was the handwritten log kept by a senior engineer at the nuclear power plant:
Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. . . . In fact, the plant was riddled with problems that, no way on earth, could stand an earth- quake. The team of engineers sent in to inspect found that most of these components could “completely and utterly fail” during an earthquake.
“Utterly fail during an earthquake.” And here in Japan was the quake and here is the utter failure. …more
Getting the hell out of the Islamic Republic of BP with the Deepwater Horizon evidence
From Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Predators. A tale of oil, sex, shoes, radiation and investigative reporting – get it now.
[Based on a tip from some guy floating in the Caspian Sea in Central Asia, we take off for Baku, Azerbaijan, the “Islamic Republic of BP.” Stopping in London, the deathly ill MI6 double-agent Leslie the Bagman lays out the history of the coup d’etat, hooker-bait and the $30 million “sweetener” paid by Lord Browne to the oil nation’s “president””“”“and suggests we find his old spy-mate, Natasha.
In the middle of this Byzantine maze, I’m looking for the real reason for the Deepwater Horizon explosion, not the bullshit seen on CNN. I get the goods, film it, get arrested for filming it, get film confiscated …except for the film in the little Austin Powers camera-in-a-pen that has to find its way out of the country.]
After some tense discussion (Penguin was partly owned by Gaddafi, so you can imagine…), my publisher has given me the unusual right to give all my readers, for no charge, the entire first chapter of my new book Vultures’ Picnic. Even if you don’t get the book, I really want you to read the first chapter.
Never before, in my decades as an investigator, have I taken you with me undercover, on the hunt into the lives, secret files, shopping bags and back rooms of the cruel and whacky One Percent. And, for the first time, I’ve decided to let you in on Greg Palast, to open up my life and the inside of my operation, without censorship or BS.
It was quite upsetting to find our President blindfolded and tied to a chair at the GOP Tea Party headquarters, but I’m sure the $2.2 trillion ransom we paid to the hostage-takers is worth it.
Well, now that the Obama presidency is over, we can move on to more serious matters.
Look out your window. What you’ll see is that, while the debt-ceiling hostage crisis played out on cable TV, the planet has been burning down.
You haven’t heard a lot from me this year””because the normally-noisy Palast investigations team has chosen to spend these months quietly digging into unreported cases of economic and environmental arson. It will all hit the presses and TV when we launch a new book and films later this year.
Greg Palast investigating BP’s blowout in the Caspian, Baku, Azerbaijan 2010.
Only 17 months before BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig suffered a deadly blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP deepwater oil platform also blew out.
You’ve heard and seen much about the Gulf disaster that killed 11 BP workers. If you have not heard about the earlier blowout, it’s because BP has kept the full story under wraps. Nor did BP inform Congress or US safety regulators, and BP, along with its oil industry partners, have preferred to keep it that way.
The earlier blowout occurred in September 2008 on BP’s Central Azeri platform in the Caspian Sea.
As one memo marked “secret” puts it, “Given the explosive potential, BP was quite fortunate to have been able to evacuate everyone safely and to prevent any gas ignition.” The Caspian oil platform was a spark away from exploding, but luck was with the 211 rig workers.
Texas plants planned by Tokyo Electric. Image:NINA
I need to speak to you, not as a reporter, but in my former capacity as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations.
I don’t know the law in Japan, so I can’t tell you if Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) can plead insanity to the homicides about to happen.
But what will Obama plead? The Administration, just months ago, asked Congress to provide a $4 billion loan guarantee for two new nuclear reactors to be built and operated on the Gulf Coast of Texas ”” by Tokyo Electric Power and local partners. As if the Gulf hasn’t suffered enough. …more
Five years ago this week, a beast drowned New Orleans. Don’t blame Katrina: the lady never, in fact, touched the city. The hurricane swept east of it.
You want to know the name of the S.O.B. who attacked New Orleans? Locals call him “Mr. Go” – the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO).
MR-GO was undoubtedly the most bone-headed, deadly insane project ever built by the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a 76-mile long canal, straight as a gun barrel, running right up from the Gulf of Mexico to the heart of New Orleans.
In effect, MR-GO was a welcome mat to the city for Katrina. Experts call it “the Hurricane Highway.”
Until the Army Corps made this crazy gash in the Mississippi Delta fifty years ago, Mother Nature protected the Crescent City with a green wreath of cypress and mangrove. The environmental slash-job caused the government’s own hydrologist to raise alarms from Day One of construction.
Unless MR-GO was fixed or plugged, the Corps was inviting, “the possibility of catastrophic damage to urban areas by a hurricane surge coming up this waterway.” (I’m quoting from a report issued 17 years before The Flood.)
A forensic analysis by Dr. John W. Day calculated that if the Corps had left just 6 miles of wetlands in place of the open canal, the surge caused by Katrina’s wind would have been reduced by 4.5 feet and a lot of New Orleaneans would be alive today. …more
Last week, Mike Papantonio told us on GRITtv that there was no fund from BP to pay for the oil disaster, and raised some questions about Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the damages to Gulf residents. Today investigative journalist Greg Palast answers some of those questions–and raises a few of his own.
Palast has been investigating BP for years, and right now is working on The Amazon to Arctic Investigation (and could use your help). He’s also got a bit of his own experience with Kenneth Feinberg, and he joins us in studio to lay out the history of cases like this, where the people hurt by corporate negligence end up getting doubly screwed when it comes time to get their benefits.
At Tatitlek Village, Alaska Native Henry Makarka told me, “If I had a machine gun I’d shoot every one of them white sons of bitches.”
Makarka was talking about the executives who came to him and his tribe 40 years ago to purchase their land at Valdez. They were from the companies now known as Exxon and BP.
The Tatitlek were paid the handsome price of $1 for Valdez, which the companies knew was worth billions.
Yes, Henry, we want to shoot BP too. And Exxon. With cameras – which corporations fear more than bullets.
We have launched the multi-national Amazon to Arctic investigation of BP and its oily sisters.
But frankly, we need the cash to do it; for the small charter planes, the detective agencies, the camera batteries and, frankly, our nourishment.
If you have ever considered supporting us, or adding to your prior support, believe me, this is the moment. Please donate here and I’ll send you, signed, your choice of thank you gifts: my films on DVD and bestselling books.
For 21 years, I have been hunting BP, Exxon, Chevron and their sisters.
But I simply can’t continue. We are, no kidding, dead out of funds for this work.
The result will be a feature-length documentary (a major network has indicated it will distribute), major print investigative pieces and a series of video-enhanced internet news reports for major sites. (As always, our reports are given to Democracy Now! and other not-for-profit broadcasters without charge.)
But the preliminary work and deep investigation which they can’t cover must start now.
* $579 buys my ticket to Alaska, BP’s latest drilling target.
* $1100 gets me to a meeting with a BP insider.
* $200 buys us a new concealable mini-recorder.
We need your help. If you believe the issue of oil’s global reach deserves the type of serious, deep investigation the Palast team uniquely provides, then now is the moment to show you support us.
Please, make it at least $100 and I’ll send you my three latest DVDs.
Better yet, become our producer. I mean it. Instead of million-dollar moguls, we are looking for a group of twenty-four “mini-moguls” to launch our films (news report length and feature length). Donate at least $1,000 and we’ll list you as a co-Producer for our next film (with a dozen DVDs of the film when complete).
BP insiders have contacted us from the Caspian to London. We need your tax-deductible donation right away. If ever there was a journalistic emergency, this is it.
We need to get back up to Alaska, BP’s next offshore target, pay the bills from hunting Chevron in the Amazon, then return to the Gulf where we have more inside information already gleaned that needs verification and publication.
I really don’t want to shut down such an important investigation. If you have ever considered supporting us, or adding to your prior support, believe me, this is the moment.
Our special thanks to Mike Papantonio, Bobby Kennedy and their Ring of Fire Radio for supporting our Arctic to Amazon campaign.
On top of this obligation, we have also begun an investigation of nuclear power which has recently arisen from its corporate crypt. I know this is a lot to take on, but we must – and we will, with your commitment to join us.
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Greg Palast investigated charges of fraud by BP and Exxon in the grounding of the Exxon Valdez for Alaska’s Chugach Natives.
With the Gulf Coast dying of oil poisoning, there’s no space in the press for British Petroleum’s latest spill, just this week: over 100,000 gallons, at its Alaska pipeline operation. A hundred thousand used to be a lot. Still is.
On Tuesday, Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile pipeline, busted. Thousands of barrels began spewing an explosive cocktail of hydrocarbons after “procedures weren’t properly implemented” by BP operators, say state inspectors. “Procedures weren’t properly implemented” is, it seems, BP’s company motto.
Few Americans know that BP owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline; but, unlike with the Deepwater Horizon, BP keeps its Limey name off the Big Pipe.
There’s another reason to keep their name off the Pipe: their management of the pipe stinks. It’s corroded, it’s undermanned and “basic maintenance” is a term BP never heard of.
How does BP get away with it? The same way the Godfather got away with it: bad things happen to folks who blow the whistle. BP has a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems. …more
Wally Hickel invented Alaska and told me he regretted it. He also invented Sarah Palin, and I was hoping, when I travel to Alaska next month, to ask him whether he also regretted that second creation.
Hickel wanted to be President; of what nation, well, that changed. First, he wanted to be President of the United States. That required that his home, Alaska, become united with the States, a task he accomplished in 1959 with the help of his buddy, and later enemy, Richard Nixon.
“That was a mistake,” he said, referring to US Statehood. “We should have been our own nation,” which, I pointed out, would have made him President instead of Governor.
Hickel grinned and took me over to a globe. As he massaged and caressed the planet’s crown, he talked about his long-held dream to create a circumpolar resource cartel linking Siberia, Alaska, sub-polar Scandinavia and northern Japan, tied together by a rail tunnel under the Bering Sea. Alaska was too small; his plan was for a Confederation of the North, an Arctic Empire that circled the top of the planet. Benevolently ruled, he made clear, by Emperor Wally. …more
I‘ve seen this movie before. In 1989, I was a fraud investigator hired to dig into the cause of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Despite Exxon’s name on that boat, I found the party most to blame for the destruction was … British Petroleum. That’s important to know, because the way BP caused devastation in Alaska is exactly the way BP is now sliming the entire Gulf Coast.
Deepwater Horizon in flames before sinking. Photo provided by D.Becnel
Tankers run aground, wells blow out, pipes burst. It shouldn’t happen but it does. And when it does, the name of the game is containment. Both in Alaska, when the Exxon Valdez grounded, and in the Gulf over a week ago, when the Deepwater Horizon platform blew, it was British Petroleum that was charged with carrying out the Oil Spill Response Plans (“OSRP”) which the company itself drafted and filed with the government.
What’s so insane, when I look over that sickening slick moving toward the Delta, is that containing spilled oil is really quite simple and easy. And from my investigation, BP has figured out a very low cost way to prepare for this task: BP lies. BP prevaricates, BP fabricates and BP obfuscates.
That’s because responding to a spill may be easy and simple, but not at all cheap. And BP is cheap. Deadly cheap.
To contain a spill, the main thing you need is a lot of rubber, long skirts of it called “boom.” Quickly surround a spill or leak or burst, then pump it out into skimmers or disperse it, sink it or burn it. Simple. …more