A Site Flags the Unpunished
& the Wonders of What’s Next
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the worst in U.S. history, coincided with Colltales’ birth four years ago, and helped establish both the site’s green credentials and its status as a breaking news destination. A bittersweet landmark, for sure, but a landmark all the same.
Over 1,300 hundred posts later, increased readership and considerable growing pains, Colltales remains a source of constant renewal. As for the state of the environment at the gulf and BP, the corporation responsible for the spill, the news are diametrically opposed.
Despite company and official claims to the contrary, recovery of marine and marshland life, and cleanup of miles of severely impacted coastlines continues to lag. Very unlike the record profits posted by the British giant concern since the April 20, 2010 disaster.
In fact, BP has been spending a large chunk of such profits fighting claims by individuals and local businesses affected by the spill, even though the Obama administration had forced it to put up a $20 billion compensation fund for the victims of its mismanagement.
As it turned out, what happened was an accident only by definition. Long before (and, sadly, ever since) the aging equipment used to pump oil out of the gulf, that sub-contractors operate for BP and other companies, is still highly vulnerable to tragic events just likely.
The defective cement supposed to seal the well feeding the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was already under much more pressure that it could handle, a government report found out, and when it failed, it caused the rig to explode and sink, claiming the lives of 11 workers.
Far from an ‘accident,’ what happened was a tragic confluence of predictable negligence and cost-cutting measures by BP and its partners, Transocean and Halliburton, resulting in the record spill of an estimated 4.9 million barrels for three full months, until the well was capped in July of 2010.
By then, the devastation to wild life and local economies was all too apparent: massive numbers of birds perished, entire micro ecosystems went into disarray and a still unknown number of marine animals were wiped from waters washing the beaches of all five gulf states.
A HOLE TOO DEEP TO FILL
As it’s becoming a habit when it comes to corporate crimes and malfeasance, despite a tacit admission of guilt and heavy dollar-figure penalties, no one went to jail. It took BP less than two years to go back to profitability, while many local business simply folded.
The event also marked one of the saddest and most ironic Earth Days in its now forty four year tradition, and
the fact that the cleanup and full recovery of the entire region is still far from complete, makes this year’s celebrations somewhat subdued if not downright pessimistic.
While many believe that the same well, and most of the other thousands spread out on the sea floor of the gulf, are far from completely sealed, and certainly not safe to marine life, it’s the blatant callousness displayed by BP throughout what is still most glaring.
Since 2010, oil and chemical spills and explosions, albeit not in the same magnitude, have becoming an unfortunate routine in the U.S., and judging by the Obama administration’s apparent indecision about the 1,700 Keystone pipeline, for instance, it’s very likely that their odds will increase tenfold.
As with the tragedy of the Sandy Hook massacre of children, to use a crude parallel all too common in American life, after the initial shock for the events’ catastrophic extent, all businesses returned to normal, and in that case, not a single meaningful gun control measure was ever implemented.
But unlike the deranged gunners who murder innocents on a regular basis, the assassins of the environment do not self destroy in the process. Instead, they prosper along with the gun industry, literally on the gushes of spilled oil and blood covering the streets and wild life of America.
A SITE FOR SORE EYESIGHTS
Despite those first weeks of front page coverage of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (we even had a link to the underwater camera that recorded the gusher 24/7 for its duration), Colltales took no particular pleasure in documenting such a brutal reality.
On the contrary, we seemed to have thrived while covering the adventures of space, for instance, including a farewell for the fleet of Shuttles, or our unwavering solidarity with animals, pets and otherwise, and with the Roma, Albinos, and other assorted gypsies.
Occasionally, we found room to inquire about the multitude of mysteries that surround, intrigue and challenge us, while marking most of every Monday with a passionate opinion about something or other. Thus, to despair of those who’d like to file us under a certain category, we wander and wonder about the world freely.
On these pages, you;ve found stories about the transgender, the soccer-obsessed, superheroes, the Brazilian heart, and the Amazon-inspired, all peppered with the contradictions and shortcomings of our own limitations as humans and writers, still learning, still perplexed about pretty much everything.
New York City was a constant character here. And so was religion, and some science, and gadgets, and technology, and tales from the far side of Africa and Asia, along with intimate portraits of a new found species, or even a multilevel slum at the core of a South American country.
We let our eyes wander, and our minds inquire, and through the words we muster, we take you for a ride that makes today unlike yesterday, and tomorrow, most likely something else. Getting to odd destinations and themes is always fun, but nothing compares to simply getting lost.
A PEEK THROUGH FISHEYE LENS
We write, or rather, I write so not to go completely insane. It’s my way of keep doing what I do and functioning at a reasonable level of awareness. That’s what’s drive me, although after four years, I feel I have an obligation to bring you something and somewhere, reader. I feel honored and lucky you’re still with me.
I know Colltales readership would spike exponentially if it were about, say, people who take the 10:15am F train uptown. I’m sure there are millions of worthy stories to tell there. However, that’s not what would make me get up everyday and, maybe, even go for that train ride.
Hope you and I still have a few good years left in us, and that our journey together serves to some purpose we can both be proud of. It certainly wouldn’t be possible without you and for that, I thank you. Come back again for another visit; there may be something else just like you would have expected.
* Live From the Gulf