BP Leaves Many Damage Claims Waiting in Limbo

Update: Several hours after this report was published, BP sent out a press release acknowledging that decisions on “several thousand claims” will be deferred until independent administrator Kenneth Feinberg takes over the compensation system. Here is our story [7] about BP’s statement.

by Sasha Chavkin ProPublica,

BP appears to be delaying decisions about the validity of many claims for damages from the Gulf oil spill, leaving claimants frustrated by bureaucratic obstacles and confusing requests for more documentation.

The company’s claims process is guided by the Oil Pollution Act, a 1990 federal law that holds oil companies responsible for repaying direct “removal costs and damages [1]” caused by a spill. But many claims are for damages that are not explicitly covered by the law — such as ruined start-up companies and lost income from commission payments — and many of those are in limbo.

BP appears to be delaying claims that are not covered by the Oil Pollution Act until the process is taken over in mid-August by Kenneth Feinberg, the independent administrator appointed by President Barack Obama to oversee the compensation process. Feinberg has said that his standards for judging claims will be more generous than the limits set by the Oil Pollution Act.

Daren Beaudo, a spokesman for BP, said, “It may be simpler for Mr. Feinberg to take on those non-Oil Pollution Act related claims.”

While BP is reviewing claims whose eligibility under the Oil Pollution Act is uncertain, it has not indicated which types of damages have been approved for payments and which of these claims are being delayed as well.

The issue came to our attention following responses to ProPublica’s BP claims tracking project [2] by readers, who said that their claims for certain types of damages were in a holding pattern.

The frustration caused by the delays is compounded because BP is not explaining the situation to claimants. Instead, claimants describe a pattern of unreturned phone calls, frequent switches of the adjuster handling their claim, and requests for more documentation. Three ProPublica readers said they received form letters from BP [3] saying that they had not provided enough documentation, only to be told later by adjusters that in fact the company was not yet approving the type of claims they had submitted.

It is unclear how many claims are being delayed because of doubts regarding their eligibility under the Oil Pollution Act, or how many claimants in this situation have been told they provided insufficient documentation. According to the latest data from BP, the company has held up a total of 59,900 claims for having insufficient documentation, accounting for 43 percent of all claims [4] and significantly outnumbering the 38,400 claims that have been approved. (If you have had a similar experience, you can tell ProPublica about it here [5].)

BP spokesman Ray Viator wrote in an e-mail that “our policy is to send letters citing ‘insufficient documentation’ only to those claimants where that applies,” and said that the sample letter provided to him from a ProPublica reader’s claim had been sent in error by BP. Viator also said that the company had instructed adjusters to inform claimants if their claims were being reviewed for eligibility under the Oil Pollution Act.

One area in which BP appears to be delaying decisions because of uncertainty about the Oil Pollution Act is claims for lost income from commission payments.

Duane Sandy, a salesman of hurricane-proof storage units based in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., said he is paid on commission and has not sold a single unit in Florida since the spill. He said he submitted a claim in May for $3,500, based on the income he expected to lose relative to his commission payments in 2009, with a letter from his boss as documentation. He has not received any checks, and he received a form letter from BP dated July 19 [3] stating that he had “provided insufficient documentation to support the claim.”

But Sandy said that when he called BP’s adjuster, he heard a different story — that BP would not pay his claim because it was not approving payments for income loss based on commissions. “Once they heard I got paid by commission, they didn’t care what I did,” Sandy said.

Viator, the BP spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that the company is “currently evaluating claims based on lost income from commissions to determine whether they are compensable under the Oil Pollution Act.”

Amy Weiss, a spokeswoman for Feinberg, said people who are paid by commission will be eligible once Feinberg takes over. Sandy may have to wait until the claims system switches control to have a chance to get compensated.

Claimants have also reported extended delays in decisions on such damage claims as lost income from a commercial photographer in a beachfront tourist town, lost down payments on canceled Gulf Coast vacations and lost sponsors for a television show about fishing in the Gulf.

If you’ve filed a claim with BP and been told that you didn’t provide enough documentation — or if there’s any other part of your experience that we should know about — you can tell ProPublica what happened with this simple form [5]. If you have questions about the BP claims process, check out ProPublica’s Unofficial Guide to BP Claims [6].

Amanda Michel contributed reporting to this piece, and is coordinating our BP claims project [2].

Update: Several hours after this report was published, BP sent out a press release acknowledging that decisions on “several thousand claims” will be deferred until independent administrator Kenneth Feinberg takes over the compensation system. Here is our story [7] about BP’s statement.

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Many In Gulf On Road To Uncertain Compensation

“Feinberg says those further down the food chain who are not happy with his offer can try their luck in court.

But I don’t think they’re going to win,” he says. “I think they’re on a fool’s mission.”

Why do they keep saying it’s Feinberg’s call when ACE’s professional Claims Deniers on the job???   He’ll kiss the insurance companies asses just like our government and BP tell him too

By Tovia Smith NPR

The economic impact of the Gulf oil spill is reaching far beyond the fishing and tourism industries that were first hit. Everyone from plumbers to beauticians says they’re feeling the pain. But some people are much more likely than others to get money from BP’s compensation fund.

While scientists watch to see if oil might make its way through the entire marine food chain, the economic food chain has already been spoiled for everyone from fishermen to oil rig workers.

With no one fishing and many restaurants hurting for business, it’s also having an impact on Scott Burke’s bottom line. His company, Loop Linen and Uniform Service, launders and rents tablecloths and napkins just outside of New Orleans.

The Trickle-Down Effect

Washing machines that usually run until 9 p.m. are turned off, and linens rented out to restaurants are piled high on shelves.

“As the restaurants slow down, we slow down,” Burke says. “It’s just a trickle-down effect.”

And the trickle doesn’t stop with Burke.

“The people who supply me — I’m not using as many chemicals to wash,” he says. “I’m not buying linen ’cause there’s just not a demand. So, everyone’s feeling the pinch.”

Many are also trying to make a claim. Even a local plumber hired a lawyer.

Shucking oysters tends to muck up the drain pipes in restaurant kitchens. But no shucking means no clogging. And now he’s sitting around wondering if he’s eligible for compensation.

“We have no customers — we’re very slow, like [a] 40 percent drop down,” says Kim Truong, who owns Paradise Nail Salon. Truong says she’s worried about her business. Many female customers say they no longer have the money to get their nails done because their husbands are out of work.

Truong says she tried to file a claim with BP and presented old tax returns, as well as receipts from this year. But she says BP officials told her they don’t yet know if they’ll be able to offer her any compensation.

Feinberg’s Judgment Call

Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of BP’s $20 billion compensation fund, determines who gets paid. The guy who owns a beachfront motel on the Gulf is a sure bet. Real estate brokers who aren’t renting as much are likely to receive something. But Feinberg says a golf course located 50 miles away is unlikely to receive anything, even if its business is way down.

“That’s a judgment call,” Feinberg says. “At some point you have to make a call: These claims are eligible; these claims are not eligible. I could be wrong. You people could draw the line somewhere else.”

Preston Mayeaux, 59, knows where he would draw the line.

Losing ‘Golden Years’

He walked into a BP claims center this week seeking compensation because, he says, the property value has plummeted at the small cabin he owns on Bayou John Charles. He says he can no longer enjoy summer weekends on the oily water.

“I lost my golden years that I wanted to be able to go to my fishing camp, and how do you put a price on that?” Mayeaux says. “I don’t know how you put a price on that.”

Apparently, neither did the BP claims official who Mayeaux says gave him a lot more pushback than sympathy. If BP’s recklessness caused the spill, then he says people like him should be compensated.

BP has repeatedly insisted that it will pay “every legitimate claim.”

“That’s the magic word. What will be considered legitimate?” says John Alario Jr., a Louisiana state senator. “I think some people will end up having to go to court to prove what is legitimate. It’s yet to be seen how fair they’re going to be. We can only go by trust at this point.”

Feinberg doesn’t disagree. His offers will all be driven by what he thinks someone would be able to get if they chose instead to sue BP.

Feinberg says those further down the food chain who are not happy with his offer can try their luck in court.

“But I don’t think they’re going to win,” he says. “I think they’re on a fool’s mission.”

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Scientists Deeply Concerned About BP Disaster Long Term Impact

Dahr Jamail August 2nd, 2010 | Inter Press Service

GULFPORT, United States – Contrary to recent media reports of a quick recovery in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists and biologists are “deeply concerned” about impacts that will likely span “several decades.”

“My prediction is that we will be dealing with the impacts of this spill for several decades to come and it will outlive me,” Dr. Ed Cake, a Biological Oceanographer, as well as a Marine and Oyster Biologist, told IPS, “I won’t be here to see the recovery.”

Dr. Cake’s grim assessment stems partially from a comparison he made to the Exxon Valdez oil disaster and the second largest oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (BP’s being the largest), that of the Ixtoc-1 blowout well in the Bay of Campeche in 1979.

“The impacts of the Exxon Valdez are still being felt 21 years later,” Dr. Cake said, “The impacts of the Ixtoc-1 are still being felt and known, 31 years later. I know folks who study oysters in bays in the Yucatan Peninsula, and oysters there have still not returned, 31 years later. So as an oyster biologist I’m concerned about that. Those things are still affected 31 years later, and that was a smaller spill by comparison.”

Dr. Cake is also concerned about deepwater habitats that are being affected. Given that BP has used at least 1.9 million gallons of chemically toxic dispersants, the vast majority of the oil has remained beneath the surface, and much of that has sunk to the sea floor.

As an example, he told of “a new coral colony ecosystem” within 10 miles of BP’s blowout Macondo Well, which was found by a pipeline company whilst it was producing an environmental impact assessment statement of the route of the pipeline.

“They found some amazing coral communities that no one knew about, and now they will be covered in oil,” Dr. Cake said, “Those will not recover.”

Dr. Stephen Cofer-Shabica, an oceanographer in South Carolina, focuses on the biology of barrier islands. He monitored the affects of the Ixtoc-1 oil disaster on Padre Island National Seashore in south Texas.

“You can go back now, 31 years later, and there’s still oil in the sand there [Padre Island],” he told IPS. But his main concern is now about what the state of Louisiana is doing in response to BP’s oil disaster.

Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal has authorized the dredging and building of sand berms near Louisiana’s barrier islands in a so-called effort to keep oil away from the shore. One area where the dredging project is still underway is the Chandeleur Islands.

“The Chandeleur project is totally futile and a waste of resources, and I can’t believe they are still doing it,” Dr. Cofer-Shabica said, “That’s what I find totally unfathomable. There’s oil floating around underwater, that has been dispersed and these barrier islands, as constructs will not have any effect on that oil at all.”

According to Dr. Cofer-Shabica, the so-called fix is actually a hugely destructive problem. “From an oceanographic perspective, this was biologically destructive, especially when you start digging up the bottom in shallow water, and building these barrier islands.”

He added, “Louisiana is in a precarious position anyway because of the subsiding that is happening in the delta, and on top of that you have worldwide sea-level rise, so it has two physical factors that are working against its marshes. So building barrier islands to presumably keep oil out, amidst rising sea levels, makes no sense.”

In addition to this, he said that the biological impacts of building islands “are larger than the physical impacts,” and said this of dredging sediment from those areas: “You’re in shallow water, that is biologically rich with clams, worms, and bacteria, that will all be dug up and destroyed.”

Dr. Cake is also worried about oil contaminating the oysters. He has seen much oil in Louisiana’s marshes. “One of the experts with us worked for NOAA on the Exxon Valdez spill, and he told me if the oil is on the marsh grass, it’s in the oysters.”

BP and the Coast Guard are currently under scrutiny for having used so much oil dispersant, an industrial solvent that breaks up the oil so that it will sink below the surface.

For example, a 1979 report, “Effects of Corexit 9527 on the Hatchability of Mallard Eggs” in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, showed that even though dispersants are applied to minimize oil impacts to visible and charismatic species, Corexit actually enhances the lethal effects of crude oil to birds that are exposed.

Corexit 9527 penetrates eggshells and shell membranes as readily as crude oil. When applied to an eggshell near the embryo, the embryo would fuse to the shell membrane and die within 24 hours.

“Corexit breaks the oil up into mirco-globules,” Dr. Cake said, “That’s the harmful part for oysters. Oysters are filter feeders, and they feed on a range of three to 12 millionths of a meter as particles. You can grind up graphite from a pencil in fine enough particles and they’ll run it through their system. It’s the same with the micro-globules of oil. They’ll be taken in, but in going through the system, and in absorbing some of that oil, it’ll cause lesions. So it’s actually what the Corexit does to the oil, that’ll affect the oysters in the end.”

According to Dr. Cake, his study teams have people watching and monitoring affected areas.

“In the past month in Bretton and Chandeleur Sounds, oil was there during the day, it was sprayed with Corexit at night, and the next day it was gone. Where did it go? It went to the bottom, and that’s adjacent to where these oyster farms are. So at that point, there’s a lot less water for that Corexit to disperse into, and there may be an impact from that on the oysters.”

Dr. Cake said that while scientists have found very large plumes of dispersed oil at depth, “I’m not sure that oil will ever get here as dispersed clouds. It’s getting here as sunken clouds, because that’s what they [BP] wanted it to do. Sink it, get it out of sight out of mind. But what about all that that’s already here? I think it came in and they sprayed it, and it’s now sunk because of the spraying.”

Chasidy Hobbs, with Emerald Coastkeeper in Pensacola, Florida, is on the City of Pensacola Environmental Advisory Board and Escambia County Citizens Environmental Committee. Hobbs also directs the environmental litigation research firm, Geography and Environment.

“We’re poisoning the entire Gulf of Mexico food web,” Hobbs, who is also an instructor and advisor in the Environmental Studies Department at University of West Florida, told IPS, “It’s crazy, and it’s criminal. I’m deeply concerned with the long-term ecological and human impact.”

Dr. Cake is among a large and growing group of scientists who are discussing a grim future for much of the Gulf of Mexico as a result of BP’s disaster.

“The oil itself on the bottom is being eaten by bacteria. This has always been the case in naturally occurring seeps across the Gulf. But now we’ve introduced much more oil, and as the bacteria grow they are consuming the oxygen that is in that area. And that oxygen loss will result in dead/hypoxic zones, like the one off the West side of the Mississippi over towards Galveston where there’s one that is 3,000 square mile area of dead bottom. Now we’re looking at that along the eastern part because of the presence of so much more bacteria.”  Original Story here

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Gulf Loop Current Stalls from BP Oil Disaster

Global Consequences if Current Fails to Reorganize

Oceanographic satellite data now shows that as of July 28, the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico has stalled as a consequence of the BP oil spill disaster. This according to Dr. Gianluigi Zangari, an Italian theoretical physicist, and major complex and chaotic systems analyst at the Frascati National Laboratories in Italy.

Intro by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News

This could be the most significant man-caused Earth Changes news thus far in my lifetime.  This morning, Lesie Pastor informed the New Energy Congress of a report by Your Own World USA that as of July 28,

Oceanographic satellite data now shows that the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico has stalled as a consequence of the BP oil spill [volcano] disaster. This according to Dr. Gianluigi Zangari, an Italian theoretical physicist, and major complex and chaotic systems analyst at the Frascati National Laboratories in Italy.

He further notes that the effects of this stall have also begun to spread to the Gulf Stream. This is because the Loop Current is a crucial element of the Gulf Stream itself and why it is commonly referred to as the “main engine” of the Stream.

The concern now, is whether or not natural processes can re-establish the stalled Loop Current. If not, we could begin to see global crop failures as early as 2011.

Images of The Day After Tomorrow flashed in my head.  The disruption of major ocean currents is no small thing.  The climate ramifications are massive, worldwide.

The Gulf Loop is the current that loops up, to the right of the middle of the Gulf of Mexico then drops down to the left of Florida where it then passes below Florida into the Atlantic, where it contributes to the Gulf Stream, which passes up the east coast of the United States and Canada.

The Gulf Stream is what keeps the east coast of the U.S. as well as Britain and Europe more temperate, compared to what they would be without this warm current passing by.

After reading through the article, seeing its scientific backing, and discussion of the ramifications, I went to Google to see if this is getting mainstream press attention.  A Google News search for “Loop Current” Stalled came up null.  Nada, nothing.

“How could that be?” I wondered.  This is huge, and it’s something that mainstream science and the mainstream press could easily verify and report.

I then placed a call to Paul Noel, who seems to always be up on things like this.  I caught him in the middle of a family vacation event at a museum, so I was only able to speak with him for a couple of minutes, but he said that he had noticed that the current had stalled.  “I check the loop current periodically”, he said.  He also said that a new phenomenon had cropped up on the beaches.  Something about a “bathtub ring” of oil residue.  I didn’t catch how this was new, and he had to go.

So apparently, this is a breaking development that will most likely take a while to sink in, just as the initial BP rig fire and sinking and oil volcano took a while for people to realize its significance and impact.  The people still living near the Gulf may yet be in denial as to the impact of the toxic fumes coming off the slick, poisoning their rain and crops and groundwater.  Now the other shoe drops.  The Loop Current stalls, and now the globe will feel the impact.

The mechanism by which the oil slick could lead to something like this could have to do with the changed viscosity of the water penetrated with oil to great depths due to the Corexit dispersant; and it could have to do with the darkened water attracting more solar heat, increasing its temperature.

Here is the rest of the story from Your Own World USA

YOWUSA.COM, 01-August-10
Marshall Masters

An Open System in Trouble

The Loop Current is a clockwise flow that extends northward into the Gulf of Mexico and joins the Yucatan Current and the Florida Current to the Gulf Stream.

The Loop Current

Although at first glance the Loop Current appears confined within the Gulf, scientists define it as an “element of an extremely complex, open system”: as all other “elements” of the so-called “Earth System”, are not separable from the others.

These various “elements” of the Earth System (i.e., atmosphere, landmasses and so forth) are so strongly correlated to one another that at some point, they become indivisible.

Why is this important to all life on the planet? The Gulf Stream is a strong interlinked component of the Earth’s global network of ocean conveyor currents, which drive the planet’s weather systems.

Dr. Gianluigi ZangariFor this reason, Zangari’s concern is that should the Loop Current fail to restart, dire global consequences may ensue as a result of extreme weather changes and many other critical phenomena. The repercussions of which could trigger widespread droughts, floods, crop failures and subsequent global food shortages.

While pundits are certain to trivialize the ramifications of this event, “the real worry” says Zangari, “is that that there is no historical precedent for the sudden replacement of a natural system, with a dysfunctional man-made system. That is, except for the atomic bomb blasts and contamination as a result of nuclear waste and nuclear plant accidents, such as the April 1986, Chernobyl disaster

 April 1986, Chernobyl disasterIn what is now widely regarded by many as “Oil’s Chernobyl,” Americans, and particularly Gulf Coast residents are disheartened by a steady stream of bureaucratically bungled responses, which are now proving to be just as a deadly as the initial event itself.

Perhaps even more so, as this toxic brew of incompetence, greed, corruption, oil, Corexit dispersant and other chemicals has unleashed a man-made disaster in the Gulf, with frightful possibilities for the future.

The Corexit Curse

1989 Exxon Valdez oil spillThe use of Corexit as a dispersant was first brought to the public’s attention during the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

A powerful solvent used as a dispersant for oil slicks, public knowledge about the dispersant and its long-term effects is hampered by the proprietary protections of its manufacturer, Nalco Holding Company, which is associated with British Petroleum (BP) and Exxon.

What is known, is that this petroleum-based formula is regarded as being at least four times more toxic to life, than the oil is disperses by many environmentalists.

Spraying the GulfOfficially, just over one million gallons of Corexit has been spayed in the Gulf of Mexico, but reliable sources tell Yowua.com that the actual amount could easily be twice that much.

Either way, current satellite data of the Gulf feeds tell Zangari that the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico has clearly stalled due to environmental impacts from a man-made introduction of oil, which were then compounded by other agents (Corexit and so on).

Worse yet, these real-time satellite data feeds offers clear evidence to Zangari that a new artificial system has been generated in of the Gulf in a remarkably short period of time. It is this new and unnatural system which has changed the viscosity, temperature and salinity of the Gulf’s seawater, thereby causing the Loop Current to stall. A system that has existed for millions of years.

Consequently, there is no possible way for scientists to predict its future evolution, though corporate spinmeisters and media pundits will no doubt be sure to offer a bevy of right-sounding predictions. Their goal as it has been throughout this ordeal, will be to deflect attention by trivializing the severity of the event with simplistic and misleading explanations.

ISFNHowever, researchers like Dr. Gianluigi Zangari, offer insights that transcend the politics of oil.

As a theoretical physicist, he currently holds a position as an associate member of the Research Division of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics at Frascati National Laboratories (LNF) of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) in Italy. A prestigious research facility focused on high-energy physics.

However, what makes Dr. Gianluigi Zangari’s findings so vital to the common man, is that for over a decade, he has conducted his continuous global analysis climate research, using publicly available data. Unlike the jealously guarded formulas for Corexit, anyone can vet his research without having to run through a gauntlet of corporate lawyers.

Tracking Zangari’s Data

Zangari’s assessment is based on daily monitoring of real-time data oceanographic satellite public data feeds called “Real-Time Mesoscale Altimetry” from the Jason, Topex/Poseidon, Geosat, Follow-On, ERS-2 and Envisat satellites.

Oceanographic Satellites

These satellite feeds are are captured and made publicly available by NASA, NOAA and by the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research (CCAR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

These CCAR data maps offer researchers like Zangari a continuous stream of markers for sea and ocean dynamics: surface height, velocity, temperature. A fourth marker that Zangari has found to be especially helpful, are chlorophyll infrared emission maps. This is because they show him real-time changes in the shape of the Gulf Stream.

Sea Surface Height

Sea Surface Velocity

In addition to changes in ocean velocity, Zangari is reporting an equally troubling analysis with sea surface temperatures. The data published by Rutgers University is from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data maps. Dr. Zangari re-elaborates and checks these data maps using his own calculus system called SHT (patented in 1999.)

Sea Surface Temperatures Acknowledgments: Frascati National Laboratories, NOAA and Rutgers University (http://marine.rutgers.edu). Analysis by Dr. Gianluigi Zangari (Frascati Labs), July 29, 2010.

Taken altogether, these four oceanographic markers began taking a turn for the worse, shortly after the Deepwater Horizon well explosion on April 20, 2010. This rapid turn of events raised Zangari’s concerns about the Gulf’s Loop Current, and then on July 28, 2010 the worst case imaginable happened. “The Loop Current simply stalled,” Zangari noted sadly “and we have no idea if it can reorganize itself, because now we’re dealing with troubling unknowns.”

Velocity and Temperature Worries

At present, Admiral Thad Allen is trying to assure Americans that the worst of the disaster has passed and that the oil slicks have disappeared due to natural processes. However the markers from oceanographic satellite feeds Dr. Zangari is studying tell him an entirely different story.

The millions of gallons of Corexit sprayed in the Gulf have given BP and the US government a convenient way to mitigate public concerns by removing the threat from sight. The logic being that since the oil is disappearing, so is the crisis. However, taking oil from the surface and spreading through the water column is not a PR matter. Instead, it has become a convenient way to cover up one massive mistake, with a tragically larger one.

To help understand why, let’s assume that what is really happening in the Gulf is not much different from what happens when you shake a bottle of oil and vinegar salad dressing. Leave the bottle on the shelf for a while and the oil and vinegar will naturally separate, each with it’s own unique viscosity.

However, when the bottle is shaken the two are mixed. This creates a new, and overall thicker viscosity, hence the dressing pours more slowly. In very simple terms, this is what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, which begs another question. Was the Gulf of Mexico intentionally written off early on, so as to protect the Gulf Stream and America’s NATO partners?

Will This Stall Spread Into the Atlantic?

The Day After TomorrowThe importance of the Gulf Stream was brought to the forefront in the blockbuster film The Day After Tomorrow (2004) where the Gulf Stream stalled, causing temperatures in New York City to plummet from sweltering to freezing in a matter of hours.

Based on real science, the film showed movie audience how the the Gulf Stream transports warm water from the equatorial regions of the Earth, along American’s Eastern seaboard and then across the Atlantic to Northern Europe.

Now, current temperature measurements for the Gulf Stream on the Atlantic Front (from 76 to 47 meridian) now appears to be about 10 degrees Celsius cooler than it was this time last year. Consequently, a direct causality nexus has now been established, between the stall of the Gulf Loop Current and this new temperature drop in the Gulf Stream on the Atlantic Front.

For this reason, the focus of Zangari’s research is presently centered on finding signs of a return to the former natural equilibrium of the Gulf. Again, he stresses making predictions (pessimistic or optimistic alike) because “these phenomena are unpredictable because they are ruled by strong non-linearities.”

Nonetheless, we must must ponder the question: What does this new nexus portend for our future? To that, Zangari says “we can affirm that this system (the Gulf Stream) is changing in an unpredictable way, which may produce serious consequences on planetary scale.”

Yowusa.com will report new developments in Dr. Zangari’s research as they become available.

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Mental Health Claims From Oil Spill Probably Won’t Be Paid

by Sasha Chavkin ProPublica, July 27

BP’s $20 billion fund to compensate those hurt by the Gulf oil spill will probably turn down one controversial class of claims: those for mental health problems.

In little-noted testimony [1] before the House Judiciary Committee on July 21, Kenneth Feinberg, the independent “claims czar” who will decide who gets compensated, said the fund was not likely to pay damages for mental illness and distress alleged to be caused by the spill.

“If you start compensating purely mental anguish without a physical injury — anxiety, stress — we’ll be getting millions of claims from people watching television,” Feinberg said. “You have to draw the line somewhere. I think it would be highly unlikely that we would compensate mental damage, alleged damage, without a signature physical injury as well.”

Feinberg’s policy will affect individuals and businesses with claims against BP, but not claims by the government. Claims by state and local governments for the costs of additional services will not be evaluated by Feinberg, and are handled directly by BP.

As we’ve reported, the Louisiana health department has warned of a looming mental health crisis [2] in communities affected by the oil spill and is pressing BP to pay for its costs. On July 9, health commissioner Alan Levine wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius [3] that state counseling teams were encountering “increases in anxiety, depression, stress, grief, excessive and earlier drinking and suicide ideation” following the disaster. BP has not yet responded to Louisiana’s request that it pay $10 million to cover the costs of emergency mental health services.

BP spokeswoman Patricia Wright said that the calls for funding for mental health services — which have also been submitted by Mississippi, Alabama and Florida [4] — have been requests rather than formal claims. She confirmed that the company has not yet responded to the requests.

While Feinberg’s standard is separate from BP’s policy on requests or possible claims by states, it shows that he is following the guidelines set by liability law. Tort law generally holds that mental health problems must be accompanied by a physical injury to merit compensation, David Owen, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, has told us.

However, Congress could direct Feinberg to expand the type of damages that his fund will cover. When Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D- Texas, pointedly asked him [1] at the July 21 hearing if he would cover damages such as mental health if Congress passed a law requiring it, Feinberg replied that he would.

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Complaints over BP’s handling of oil spill compensation

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BP Oil Poisons the Gulf of Mexico’s Food Chain

Story by Dahr Jamail, Photography by Erika Blumenfeld, Inter Press Service | Report

NEW ORLEANS – Environmental experts warn that the eco-systems and food chain in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding region already deeply harmed and toxified by the ongoing British Petroleum (BP) oil disaster likely face much greater damage.

“You know how the pelicans die of oil,” Dean Wilson, the Executive Director of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper asked IPS, “They open their wings, thinking they are drying them in the sun, and they just cook in the sun. Thousands of birds are dying like that because of the greed of a foreign company.”

The organization Wilson heads is dedicated to preserving the ecosystems of the Atchafalaya Basin on the Louisiana Coast. He is incensed at the catastrophic impact the BP oil disaster, which has been ongoing for nearly three months, is having on the Gulf region.

Wilson is equally angry about what he perceives as a lack of willingness on the part of BP to implement measures necessary to adequately protect wildlife, including BP not rescuing the chicks of oiled adult birds, as well as not allowing local environmentalists, like himself, to go out and participate in animal rescue efforts.  Read the entire story here

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