If the U.S. jails Julian Assange, they should jail me, and my colleagues at The Guardian and NYT. We ALL used the ...more
5 years ago, we located an eyewitness with devastating new information about the Caspian Sea oil-rig blow-out which BP had concealed from government and the industry. The witness, whose story is backed up by rig workers who were evacuated from BP’s Caspian platform, said ...more
From his investigation for Channel 4 Television in the newly released film, Vultures and Vote Rustlers ...more
From his investigation for Channel 4 Television in the newly released film, Vultures and Vote Rustlers ...more
Read the full story at TruthDig
Two decades ago I was the investigator for the legal team that sold you the bullshit that a drunken captain was the principal cause of the Exxon Valdez disaster, the oil tanker crackup that poisoned over a thousand miles of Alaska’s coastline 25 years ago today, on March 24, 1989.The truth is far uglier, and the real culprit – British Petroleum, now BP – got away without a scratch to its reputation or to its pocketbook.
Just this month, the Obama administration authorized BP to return to drilling in the Gulf.
It would be worth the time of our ever-trusting regulators to take a look at my Exxon Valdez files on BP. They would see a decades-long pattern of BP’s lies, bribes and …more
by Greg Palast for No Fracking Ireland
On the 20th of April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oilrig blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven men instantly, then destroying 600 miles of coastline. On 9 September 2010, a natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, California, burning eight to death, one of several recent pipeline explosions in the USA. In 1992, in Chicago, a gas pipe leaked and 18 houses exploded, incinerating three people.
Everything. It was my job to investigate these three explosions, the Deepwater Horizon and California explosions as a reporter for the UK Channel 4’s Dispatches, the earliest as a US government investigator. In all three cases, the deaths were preceded by the same reassurances about the safety of drilling and piping that I read now in the debate about fracking in Ireland.
First, the Deepwater Horizon. Eleven men died when the ”˜mud’ – drilling cement meant to cap the wellhead – failed and methane gas blew out the top of the pipes and exploded. The Shannon Basin is not the Gulf of Mexico, but your safety will be just as dependent on Halliburton’s mud. …more
A Book Review by Greg Palast, for FireDogLake.com
on Poisoned Legacy: the Human Cost of BP’s Rise to Power (St. Martin’s Press) by Mike Magner.
Here’s my bead on Magner’s book….
I almost fell off the barstool when I read that it was Bain Capital (Mitt Romney, former CEO), that told oil giant BP it was a good idea to cut costs. …more
Special for Buzzflash at Truthout
The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat. More like a scape-kid, really.
Today, Justice arrested former BP engineer Kurt Mix for destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.
I once ran a Justice Department racketeering case and damned if I would have ‘cuffed some poor schmuck like Mix — especially when there’s hot, smoking guns showing greater crimes by BP higher ups.
Last week, I released evidence we uncovered that BP top executives concealed evidence of a prior blow-out. Had they not covered up the 2008 blow-out in then Caspian Sea, then the Deepwater Horizon probably would not have blown out two years later in 2010. [Watch the film and read the stories.]
I urge you to read the affidavit of FBI agent Barbara O’Donnell which the government filed in arresting Mix. His crime is deleting texts from his phone indicating that the blown-out Macondo well was gushing over 15,000 barrels of oil a day, not 5,000 as BP told the public and government. If true, it’s a crime, destruction of evidence. But Mix is a minnow. What about the sharks? The texts were obviously sent to someone (named only “SUPERVISOR” by the FBI). If “Supervisor” knew, then undoubtedly so did BP managers higher up. Presumably, even CEO Tony Hayward would have gotten the message on his racing yacht.
Support The Palast Investigative Fund and keep our work alive!
Destruction of evidence is not nice, but concealment of evidence and fraud by corporate bigs, is the bigger crime. I hope, I assume, I demand that we find out what Supervisor’s supervisors knew and when they knew it — and didn’t tell us.
And far, far, far more important: when is the Justice Department going to go after the greater wrongdoing? Let’s begin with the cover-up before the spill that the drilling methods used on the Deepwater Horizon had led to a blow-out nearly two years earlier.
Let’s face it: to go after the bigger crime means going after the entire industry. The earlier blow-out was concealed by BP as well as its partners Exxon and Chevron and, by the US State Department under Condoleezza Rice. [If you want to get that story, please check out Part II: BP Covered Up Prior Oil Spill at Ecowatch.org.]
One point in Mr. Mix’s defense. During my investigation of the Deepwater Horizon, I found that employees who provide evidence against BP find their careers floating face down in the Gulf.
BP and other oil companies punish troublemakers by writing “NRB” on their record. That means “Not Required Back” — and the worker is banned from the offshore rigs. No doubt, Mr. Mix thought long and hard about what would happen to his career if his texts came to light. Not an excuse for crime, but it’s a fact. It’s the guys on top putting on this kind of pressure that should be doing the perp walk: the Big Bad BP Wolves, not their mixxed-up scapegoat.
Re-prints permitted with credit to Greg Palast
Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic, which centers on his investigation of BP, bribery and corruption in the oil industry. Palast’s, reports can be seen on BBC-TV and Britain’s Channel 4.
You can read Vultures’ Picnic, “Chapter 1: Goldfinger,” or download it, at no charge: click here.
Exclusive for EcoWatch.org
Thursday, 19. April, 2012
Two years before the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP off-shore rig suffered a nearly identical blow-out, but BP concealed the first one from the U.S. regulators and Congress.
This week, EcoWatch.org located an eyewitness with devastating new information about the Caspian Sea oil-rig blow-out which BP had concealed from government and the industry.
The witness, whose story is backed up by rig workers who were evacuated from BP’s Caspian platform, said that had BP revealed the full story as required by industry practice, the eleven Gulf of Mexico workers “could have had a chance” of survival. But BP’s insistence on using methods proven faulty sealed their fate.
One cause of the blow-outs was the same in both cases: the use of a money-saving technique””plugging holes with “quick-dry” cement.
By hiding the disastrous failure of its penny-pinching cement process in 2008, BP was able to continue to use the dangerous methods in the Gulf of Mexico””causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history. April 20 marks the second anniversary of the Gulf oil disaster.
There were several failures in common to the two incidents identified by the eyewitness. He is an industry insider whose identity and expertise we have confirmed. His name and that of other witnesses we contacted must be withheld for their safety.
The failures revolve around the use of “quick-dry” cement, the uselessness of blow-out preventers, “mayhem” in evacuation procedures and an atmosphere of fear which prevents workers from blowing the whistle on safety problems.
Support The Palast Investigative Fund and keep our work alive!
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “We have laws that make it illegal to hide this kind of information. At the very least, these are lies by omission. When you juxtapose their knowledge of this incident upon the oil companies constant and persistent assurances of safety to regulators, investigators and shareholders, you have all the elements to prove that their concealment of the information was criminal.” …more
See Greg Palast on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman on the BP Settlement.
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
Special to TruthOut.org
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
Exclusive for Truthout/Buzzflash
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.
For two decades, investigator Greg Palast has been on BP’s trail. In BP: In Deep Water, Palast takes Dispatches viewers along on his world-wide investigation of the oil giant. (Sorry, UK only).
One year after BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig blew apart and spewed 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP claims victory – that most of the oil is gone.
Palast walks across one still-slimed beach with a marine biologist who describes ‘BP’s clean up theatre’ as ‘superficial’ and ‘cosmetic’. He shows us the oil still coming ashore, and the oil still deep beneath the beach surface.
From the Gulf, Palast flies to the Alaskan Arctic and discovers that BP has spilled over 200,000 gallons of oil. The problem: BP had not tested the integrity of pipeline for eight years. The reason? A prosecuting attorney said: ‘BP cut corners with disastrous consequences.’ Palast meets an insider In shadow, a man who programmed the type of testing equipment oil companies can use, called the PIG, says it can cost up to $1 million per mile to test pipes. BP’s failure to test could have saved it millions of dollars, but failure to check the pipeline was at the cost of poisoning the last pristine wilderness.
Palast, who years earlier led an investigation of the Exxon Valdez disaster reveals that, despite the name ‘Exxon’ on the tanker, it was a company called Alyeska, in which BP had a majority share, that was responsible for containing the oil spill. Their response was so slow that oil devastated 1,300 miles of Alaskan shores. The company failed to have the equipment and crews required to deal with the spill. Palast shows viewers the oil still on the beaches, 22 years after the spill.
Then, it’s a flight half-way across the planet to the police state of Azerbaijan, in Central Asia, where the Dispatches crew is detained by state security while attempting to film BP’s operations. Just after Azerbaijan’s ruling family took control after a coup, BP , with other oil companies, took the nation’s oil in a deal called the ‘Contract of the Century.’ Former MP, former BP political advisor and MI6 operative Harold Elletson tells Dispatches how the dictatorship made sure the deals with BP would ‘stick’.
Also saying he helped to make BP’s position ‘stick’ was the oil company’s one-time Deputy Representative in Azerbaijan who tells Dispatches that, to win favour from the petro-state, BP authorised his paying over $2 million in bribes.
And, while working for BP, that he was approached by MI6 to spy for Britain, providing military intelligence to Moscow station chief John Scarlett.
About Greg Palast
A fraud investigator turned journalist, Palast is best known in the US for his discovery of how Katherine Harris fixed the Presidential election of 2000 for George W Bush and, in the UK, for his Observer investigation, ‘Lobbygate: Cash for Access’ about New Labour and lobbyist influence. Palast investigated the Exxon Valdez grounding for the Natives of Alaska, owners of the state’s coastline; and for the government, directed investigations of fraud in the energy industry.
Palast’s investigations are supported in part by the Puffin and Cloud Mountain Foundations and the Palast Investigative Fund, a 501c3 charitable trust.
Tonight, my dog Pluto and I watched the PBS ‘Frontline’ investigation of BP, “The Spill.”
PBS has uncovered a real shocker: BP neglected safety!
Well, no shit, Sherlock!
Pluto rolled over on the rug and looked at me as if to say, Don’t we already know this?
Then PBS told us – get ready – that BP has neglected warnings about oil safety for years!
That’s true. But so has PBS. The Petroleum Broadcast System has turned a blind eye to BP perfidy for decades.
If the broadcast had come six months before the Gulf blow-out, after the 2005 BP Refinery explosion in Texas, or after the 2006 Alaska pipeline disaster, or after the years of government fines that flashed DANGER-DANGER, I would say, “Damn, that Frontline sure is courageous.” But six months after the blow-out, PBS has shown us it only has the courage to shoot the wounded.
But hey, at least PBS is now on the case.
Or is it? …more
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.