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Key West environmentalist gives true picture

A disaster, not a spill:

"A 'spill' is what you get when you tip over a glass"

Environmentalist Dennis Henize, an Ohio native who has lived in Florida for decades, gives insight into the BP oil situation. A hurricane expert, he retired as station chief of the NOAA weather station in the Florida Keys. His report:

I'm trying to be objective, but I cannot help some of my cynicism escaping -- this whole thing has been characterized by lying and more lying. The honcho from the Coast Guard STILL sounds like his scripts are written by BP.

Here's a web blog by a non-professional scientist who has been doing an excellent job of tracking oil using satellite imagery ( ). His analyses early-on gave the first indications that oil was getting close to, and then some entrained in, the Loop Current. And his analyses yielded the first estimates, later validated by other scientists and eventually admitted by BP and the government agencies, that the amount gushed was far greater than first admitted. (I don't call this disaster a spill; a "spill" is what you get when you tip over a glass.)


BP claims "some" success with this week's attempt to cap the well. We'll see. Mainstream media has more detail on that ongoing process. The total amount of oil gushed so far is in the tens of millions of gallons. Mainstream media has ...plenty of heartbreaking photos of dead and dying birds and sea-critters mainly along the Louisiana coast. It's very real and it is an environmental catastrophe.

There've been reports of oil sheen in the Florida Straits (the body of ocean between the Keys and Cuba, through which flows the Gulf Stream, fed in part by the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current which everybody has now heard of) not far off the Keys, and more-than-normal number of tarballs washing up on the Keys. Booms are being placed around a couple of "swim with dolphins" tourist attractions in the Middle Keys (see

BP, backed up by the Coast Guard, has insisted that the tarballs found in the Keys about 10 days ago were NOT from the BP disaster... but I have to be a bit skeptical. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't... and that doesn't matter. A huge amount of oil has been gushing into the sea, and some of it is certain to get caught up in currents which go right past us and into the Atlantic. I seriously doubt that the more recent oil sheens spotted off the Keys and the new tarballs are from some source other than BP's Maconda well (that is the name of the well that the Deepwater Horizon was drilling). Of course BP sees it in their interest to deny that any given oil found elsewhere is theirs, and my impression of most of what the Coast Guard (and NOAA) says is to help BP cover their butts.

The state of Florida is now spending millions on an ad campaign to say "the coast is clear". So far that is true, but of course that could change in one day. Oops... right this minute I'm hearing that ad campaign is already pulled, as oil is right off the beaches of Pensacola, up in the Panhandle.

University scientists are finding huge plumes of oil, beneath the surface, throughout the depth, up in the Gulf... but BP says that could not possibly be their oil, claiming that all oil floats to the surface. But it is known that the amount of oil on the surface couldn't possibly account for all that has gushed out. The lies keep gushing from BP.

The impact here in the Keys... we just don't know. Very little yet, except everybody's on edge, and some commercial fishing is curtailed because fisheries out west of the Keys are closed now. With luck, most of the oil that does end up entrained in the Loop Current will float past the Keys with little impact to the shoreline and nearby shallows. The coral reef which is 5-10 miles south of the Keys is at greater risk, as the Gulf stream current sometimes hugs the reef. If some of those large underwater oil plumes end up in the current, they could be devastating to the coral reef. Of course with BAD luck, say strong southeast or south winds (which is what our prevailing winds are) at a time when a lot of oil is floating past, a lot of surface oil could end up blown into the shallows and shoreline. That would be the worst disaster imaginable (or worse yet, an early-season hurricane or tropical storm). The Keys are hundreds of mangrove-lined islands that would be impossible to boom.

That's my best description of what's happening, and some rational speculation about what we might expect, here in the Keys. I'd love to see some BP executives behind bars (or better yet, stuffed into that pipe on the sea-floor), but I doubt that will happen. And the federal agencies which are supposed to oversee the offshore oil industry need to be really shaken up. They've been in bed (literally and figuratively - Google "MMS sex and drugs scandal") with the industry for years.

My (understated) feeling in a nutshell about offshore drilling (and other high-risk large-scale ventures): we humans should NEVER get into endeavors in which things can go so badly wrong that we cannot contain them real quickly.SKYTRUTH: using remote sensing and digital mapping to educate the public and policymakers about


Our new Gulf Oil Spill Tracker site can help show the world what's going on. If you're in the Gulf region and have photos or videos, you can share that information with others via the Gulf Oil Spill Tracker, and browse the site using an interactive map to view reports submitted by other folks.



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