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Toxic Spewing and The Punditocracy Printer friendly page Print This
By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III)
Axis of Logic
Sunday, Aug 23, 2015

                Say one word with your mouth shut!
                                                       - Zen saying

While reading about the recent EPA/Gold King Mine toxic waste dump into the Colorado River (turning it orange!), it occurred to me that this disaster is reflective of a wider problem.

“As of Sunday [August 9] the mine was still spewing out at 500 gallons per minute, but on Friday the EPA began diverting any newly released liquid into two settling ponds nearby.” [1]
Remember in 2010, the non-stop (until it was stopped after 87 days [2] TV/Online video of the BP Macondo Deepwater Horizon blowout gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico?
And the ongoing for years radioactive water, from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, pouring into the Pacific Ocean? And still at it, as this recent headline reveals:
“Officials: “Trillions of becquerels of radioactive material still flowing into sea” at Fukushima — Map shows nuclear waste coming up from bottom of ocean far offshore — Japan TV Journalist: “Contaminated seawater will circulate around globe… disaster like a huge cloth expanding everyday” [3]
So what else is it that spews almost incessantly, pouring out its vitriolic propaganda, gushing deceptions and outright brainwashing lies, and, when threatened, becomes lords of character assassinations and/or glorifications? The corporate-government MainStream-Media (MSM), slick purveyors of 24-7 hype – all the while instilling a lack of empathy. Though seemingly most potent via TV, MSM includes various online and print media, and can often be a mixed-bag, for example, The New York Times.

A current example is the surreality TV show that is the USEmpire’s presidential parade of idiotic pandering from the “corporate punditocracy.” [4] Comedians and satirists count their lucky stars for such stuff and though the laughter certainly eases the pain, there are issues that cannot simply be laughed away.
The Animas River turning toxic orange – red flagging both mining and so-called spills – reminded of two other spewings. The first spewed its course but the toxic residue lives on; the second remains one of the greatest undealt with threats of our time. While the corporate punditocracy thrives on immediate disaster-hype (a propagandic shock doctrine), the Befores and Afters of the disasters reveal much.

The British are spewing! The British are spewing!

The energy behemoth BP is a “British multinational headquartered in London.” The following is a slice of justice with regards to the Deepwater Horizon gusher:
“The company plead guilty to 11 counts of felony manslaughter, two misdemeanors, and one felony count of lying to Congress, and agreed to pay more than $4.5 billion in fines and penalties, the largest criminal resolution in US history.” [5]
However, with their global reach and mega-earnings, don't expect BP to sulk in a corner over financial losses. “As of December 2013, BP has operations in approximately 80 countries.” [6]

Another part of the toxic Afters is:
“1.8 million gallons of Corexit oil dispersant were used in the cleanup response, becoming the largest application of such chemicals in US history.” [7]
Have you ever heard of the Houma Indians? They are dealing with a Catch-22 situation:
“But despite being ground zero for past disasters and future threats in the Gulf Coast, the UHN [United Houma Nation] has had difficulty accessing relief and recovery funds due to its lack of federal recognition. For example, following the BP disaster the tribe requested funding from BP for a case manager to assist members with their claims, but that request was denied due to the tribe's lack of status. That denial echoed the tribe's post-Hurricane Katrina experience when it didn't receive a single recovery grant from the federal government, again due to its lack of formal recognition.” [8]
What reeks of hypocrisy is that the UHN has to be “federally recognized” so as to get disaster relief, yet an international corporation can pay their penalties and continue doing business in the water!

Perhaps, too, you saw the BP TV commercials post-spew, remaking their image with bright and shiny commitments. Mumia's description of the “nation's corporate media” leading-up to the invasion of Iraq, (where side-effects continue to spew) fits the bill:
“They acted largely as billboards and megaphones for the administration, echoing and parroting whatever drivel came out of Washington, and added martial music and sexy graphics to make it sound and look better.” [9]

As for the Befores:
“An oil well cementing expert told a federal judge … that BP should not have proceeded with the cement job the day before the ill-fated Macondo well blew out, despite knowing the hazards involved.” [10]
“Halliburton officials knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said...” [11]
Why didn't they hire a feng-shui [12] consultant?
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant represents a perfect storm of earthquake, tsunami, and man-made hubris to build such a structure in such a location. On the technological side:
“The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a “Mark 1” nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment.” [13]
“G.E. began making the Mark 1 boiling-water reactors in the 1960s, marketing them as cheaper and easier to build — in part because they used a comparatively smaller and less expensive containment structure. American regulators began identifying weaknesses very early on.” [14]
Yet, “Michael Tetuan, a spokesman for G.E.'s water and power division, staunchly defended the technology … calling it 'the industry's workhorse with a proven track record of safety and reliability for more than 40 years.'” [15]

Article from November 2013:
“2 weeks after the Fukushima accident, we reported that the government responded to the nuclear accident by trying to raise acceptable radiation levels and pretending that radiation is good for us.” [16]
And the headline of the article from which that quote comes from speaks volumes: “Japan Reacts to Fukushima Crisis By Banning Journalism.”

As with wars, the side-effects from these kinds of disasters are devastating. Along with the direct health-related issues – especially cancers – due to radiation exposure, are increases in PTSD, suicides,  increased infant mortality rate, “anxiety disorders arising from the evacuations”, etc. [17]

August 2015 saw the restart of the Kyushu Electric Power Sendai nuclear power plant despite “polls revealing that a clear majority of the population want Japan to end nuclear power.” [18]

As far as the effects on the west coast of North America, due to the fact that oceans don't have borders:
“EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California. Margot Perez-Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the EPA's regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency's written statement would stand on its own.
Critics said the public needs more information.” [19]
“The failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening.

“Earlier this year, the acting EPA director signed a revised version of the EPA’s Protective Action Guide for radiological incidents, which radically relaxing the safety guidelines agencies follow in the wake of a nuclear-reactor meltdown or other unexpected release of radiation.  EPA whistleblowers called it 'a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace.'” [20]
And the mention of EPA segues to the recent spewing.

Midas touch
Most are probably familiar with King Midas who wished that everything he touched would turn to gold; granted his wish, his greed blinded him to the fact that he would have to touch his food, his daughter, and so on.

The EPA/Gold King Mine spew is thus far not as conclusive as the previous examples. Yet again, there were signs:
“Five months before the Animas River toxic spill disaster, leaders from the tiny Colorado mining town of Silverton pleaded with EPA officials to not perform tests that would declare the area a Superfund site.

“Yet the Environmental Protection Agency was intent on ferreting out 'widespread soil contamination' from historic mines, even though the town was tested five years ago and no problems were found...

“On Aug. 5, an EPA crew breached a debris dam at the old Gold King Mine, and 3 million gallons of water containing lead and arsenic flowed into the Animas River. The poisons turned the water bright orange and have since flowed into Utah and New Mexico, creating an epic disaster affecting farmers, towns and the Navajo Nation, which rely on the water...

“One geologist thinks the EPA created the mess to give itself another Superfund site to work on.

“Five days before the breach, the Silverton Standard ran a letter to the editor from a person identified as Dave Taylor, who said he had 47 years’ experience as a professional geologist.

“The technical letter describes how the EPA will create a scenario where 'the water will find a way out and exfiltrate uncontrollably through connected abandoned shafts, drifts, raises, fractures…contamination may actually increase due to the disturbance and flushing action within the workings.'

“Taylor accused the EPA of creating the mess to get 'a foot in the door to justify its hidden agenda for construction of a treatment plant.'
“Taylor wasn’t too far off. When asked in the town meeting whether the EPA wanted to declare the area a Superfund site, EPA project manager Paula Schmittdiel said, 'That’s still a point of discussion.'” [21]
The following speaks to the bigger picture of the hazards of mining:
“The tragic accident occurred as contractors for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were working to plug Gold King, which had been leaking acid mine drainage into the river system for years.
But the stage was set by decades of neglect and the near-absence of any requirements that mining companies take responsibility for preventing harm to people and aquatic life after they close their mines. Some 500,000 abandoned mines, most un-reclaimed, now dot the nation’s landscape.” [22]

Suspicious Afters are the Superfund, the attempt to squelch the right for Native Peoples to receive assistance and the lack of providing assistance.

1- “'We were up in this area doing what’s called site investigation. This is work that we do in Superfund to understand the extent of the understand how to work to stop that flow,' McGrath said. 'In doing our work up there, we hit a spot where water started coming out that we hadn't expected. We come to find out there was quite a bit more mine waste water up there than we had expected, for sure. In fact the dam that had been holding that water back was just soils and loose materials instead of solid rocks. That started to flow out, and [the wastewater] quickly broke through and drained out.'” [23]

2- “Not only has the US poisoned the Animas River water in this area of New Mexico and Colorado, but the US EPA immediately began a dirty tricks campaign, attempting to get Navajos to sign waivers of liability to release the US from financial liability, to prevent Navajos and others from recovering.” [24]

And there's an insult-to-injury (to put it mildly) history:
“When the power plants first poisoned the air, water and land of the Four Corners region, the United States declared the Four Corners region -- including this area of the Navajo Nation -- is a 'sacrifice zone.' This is because the electricity produced here is for distant US cities. Power plants, and the dirty coal mining it depends on, use lots of water.” [25]
3. From an August 18 report:
“Farmers in Shiprock [Navajo Nation aka Arizona] say the tankers arriving with desperately needed hydration for their crops contained water that smelled like petroleum, was visibly discolored and had an odd sheen to it... The deliveries were intended to help crops that are wilting in the sun after the spill at the Gold King Mine in Colorado on Aug. 5 contaminated the San Juan River downstream. Ben halted the distribution of the emergency replacement water. 'The EPA has begun to study this water,” he said. “In the meantime, our plants are dying.' … 'The farmers are outraged,' [Farm Board Representative Joe] Ben Jr. said, and they have yet to receive one clean gallon from the EPA, which took responsibility for the Animas River spill. … Ben said farmers are planning a demonstration.” [26]
And this article gives an example of the Befores and Afters that many minorities have to deal with:
Navajos at Shiprock heart-wrenching vote not to irrigate with contaminated river water
That these disasters have a history and are not simply sudden calamities due to freakish weather or accidents also speaks to the MSM, for they, too, have scripted agendas, seeking to distract the minds and attention spans of the masses.

The patterns evident from these brief examples are: Befores – ignoring warnings and using cheap or inefficient building materials. Afters: avoiding real systemic change, not fully cleaning up and not fully helping people (which includes so-called wildlife) and the environment recover.

“What we are saying is that our government is co-creating a dangerous change in the world” Roger Cox, a legal adviser [27]

Lawsuits reflect a potential shift in how, pardon the vernacular, shit can get undone. Some recent examples of what seems a new trend:

An October 2014 article reports - “'Stop the Toxic Treadmill': EPA Sued for Approving Controversial Herbicide

April 2015 article - “In Landmark Case, Dutch Citizens Sue Their Government Over Failure To Act On Climate Change

August 2015 - “Fighting for Next Generation, Kids File Climate Suit Against US Government

And more cohesively:
“Famed Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, known for having put Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on trial for genocide in 1998, has reportedly "set his sights on widening the definition of international law to target corporations that carry out economic or environmental crimes," the Guardian reported... Next month, according to the Guardian, he and other leading human rights activists, judges, and academics from a dozen countries will come together at a conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina to push forward the idea that economic and environmental crimes be considered crimes against humanity, akin to torture or genocide.” [28]
While these examples highlight a wonderful shift of perspective, the Rights of Mother Earth and of all living beings (which includes rocks and thus 'crimes against rocks,' as with fracking) need also be included, if such man-made legalities are to be fully effective.

As an example of how things can get twisted, the word “pundit” comes from Sanskrit, “a learned man, scholar,”29 the very opposite of its current usage. And “-cracy” [30] is from the Greek “kratos” meaning strength or power. Such a verbiage message reminds us that, to positively affect our futures, we may need to delve into our pasts – all the while being in the present, dealing with the terrible messes that have been made.

Along with sustainable and renewable energy systems, wise applications of science and technology, and intuitively connecting with the land and elements, the time is ripe for a resurgence of the true punditocracy.

1. “EPA's Colorado Mine Spill: What You Need to Know"
2. “Deepwater Horizon oil spill”
3. Enenews Report
4. Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu Jamal, ed. By Johann Fernandez,City Lights Books, p.107.
5. “BP” 
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. “Louisiana tribe renews fight for federal recognition in the face of sinking lands, environmental disasters
9. Ibid #4 p.162.
10. “Expert testifies BP should have halted cement job, as Gulf oil spill trial continues” 
11. “Panel Says Firms Knew of Cement Flaws Before Spill
12.  “feng-shui” translates as wind-water and is an ancient Chinese art of placement which harmonizes physical structures with the landscape.
13. “Experts Had Long Criticized Potential Weakness in Design of Stricken Reactor” 
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16.  “Japan Reacts to Fukushima Crisis By Banning Journalism
17. “Fukushima: Thousands Have Already Died, Thousands More Will Die
18. “Japan's return to nuclear meets with fear and loathing
19. “EPA deploys more radiation monitors to the West Coast
20. Ibid #16.
21.  “Months ago, Colorado town begged EPA to leave Gold King Mine alone
22. “As the Gold King Spill Reminds Us, We All Live Downstream
23. “EPA Causes Massive Spill of Mining Waste Water in Colorado, Turns Animas River Bright Orange
24. “US poisons Navajo river water in scorched earth campaign
25. Ibid.
26. "Navajo Farmers: EPA Sent Us More Contaminated Water"
27. “In Landmark Case, Dutch Citizens Sue Their Government Over Failure To Act On Climate Change
28.“Crusading Spanish Judge Sets Sights on Corporate and Environmental Crimes
29. “Pundit”    
30. “-cracy

Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. His recent book is “Drive-thru Theofascism & The Hero's Journey” and the newest is “Dear_______, poem-letters to friends and enemies.” You can contact him via his literary website.


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