Guest Post: BP Is Hiding Dead Animals to Avoid Fine of $50,000 Per Dead Animal (and the Bad Publicity)

Washington’s Blog

(Videos embedded in version at my blog)

BP has been trying to hide dead birds and other sealife.

Fox News reports that BP is trying to keep animal carcasses away from public view:

Local Gulf Coast residents and those monitoring turtles say that BP is removing carcasses at night to hide them from the public:

Jerry Cope and Charles Hambleton report:

The numbers of birds, fish, turtles, and mammals killed by the use of Corexit will never be known as the evidence strongly suggests that BP worked with the Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA, private security contractors, and local law enforcement, all of which cooperated to conceal the operations disposing of the animals from the media and the public.The majority of the disposal operations were carried out under cover of darkness. The areas along the beaches and coastal Islands where the dead animals were collected were closed off by the U.S. Coast Guard. On shore, private contractors and local law enforcement officials kept off limits the areas where the remains of the dead animals were dumped, mainly at the Magnolia Springs landfill by Waste Management where armed guards controlled access. The nearby weigh station where the Waste Management trucks passed through with their cargoes was also restricted by at least one sheriff’s deputies in a patrol car, 24/7.

Robyn Hill, who was Beach Ambassador for the City of Gulf Shores until she became so ill she collapsed on the job one morning, was at a residential condominium property adjacent to the Gulf Shores beach when she smelled an overwhelming stench. She went to see where the odor was coming from and witnessed two contract workers dumping plastic bags full of dead birds and fish in a residential Waste Management dumpster, which was then protected by a security guard. Within five minutes, a Waste Management collection truck emptied the contents and the guard departed.

Independent biologists are also being blocked from investigating wildlife.

What’s the reason for this cover up?

I had assumed that all such shenanigans were just to keep the dead wildlife away from public view.

But as the Christian Science Monitor pointed out in June:

Federal laws makes BP liable for up to $50,000 per dead animal on the endangered species list, such as a Kemp’s Ridley turtle.

It’s not just the Kemp’s Ridley. Sperm whales and hawksbill turtles are also endangered animals living in the Gulf.

So are Brown pelicans, which have been hit hard by the oil spill.

In fact, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service lists 29 endangered species in the Gulf which could be harmed by the spill.

You already know that BP is trying to hide the amount of oil which has leaked into the Gulf in order to reduce the amount of fines it has to pay under the Clean Water Act (see this and this).

Similarly, BP is also trying to secretly dispose of endangered animals killed by the spill in order reduce its fines under the Endangered Species Act.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. CingRed

    Imagine, the government working with business to cover up wrong doings! Like that has never happened before! Let’s talk about doing away with Mark to Market, TARP, off balance sheet accounting in corporate and government books, and a long list of others going back to the Iran contra affair or the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Don’t worry, this too will fade into the past with no one being held accountable.

  2. Moe Green

    Amazing. We humans are capable of anything. Once we realize that the enlightenment values(however flawed and attenuated) that once to some extent animated the american polity/nation state/business/ have long left the scene its not surprising that these things go on. At a certain level the core ethical difference (save for far better media and well paid intellectual rationalizers) between some 3rd world despotic regime and the U.S. is minimal. What is troubling is the ever present “well they have to make a living” refrain in the U.S. Hiding animals, rioting for housing vouchers, attacking release of the wiki leaks on some tortured legalistic basis rather than alarm for the murder of women and children, the list goes on and on…..Frankly, 9th century Rome would have been a lot more pleasant, no ever present Obama, Clinton faces on 24/7, no Barey frank, no T.V. Oh and based on actual evidence would have lived longer (reduction in life expectancy was due to industrial revolution, the Athenians even urged men over 60 to stop fathering children–really the whole this is the best of times meme is tiresome as well as ignorant.

    Hiding dead turtles–this is what its come to.

  3. foxmarks

    Sometimes when someone says, “there’s nothing to see here,” it is because there really is nothing to see.

    Those pelicans, allegedly “hit hard”…how many have actually died? A couple of hundred. Sad, for sure. But nothing near the hysteria y’all have been fed.

    There are over 60,000 pelicans in the Gulf. A handful of photos do not constitute a tragedy.

    1. Charles Alan Murray

      How could you arrive at your toll of “a couple of hundred” when BP (and government “security”) has so rigorously kept people from the coastline to prevent this very kind of monitoring? And 60,000 sounds like a small number for an entire species reliant on the Gulf as habitat, habitat now flooded with toxic chemicals, first oil (by accident?) and later with “Corexit,” deliberately for profit. There is no defence for BP, or the US corporate governance cartel in this very definite tragedy, nor for indefensible apologists like you.

      Victoria, B.C. Canada

      1. foxmarks

        Check the links.

        I’m not defending BP, I’m attacking the lazy media and the idiots who buy their factless storylines.

        If you have better numbers, link to them.

  4. Neil D

    Everytime I read an article about BP arguing there is some conspiracy to cover up the destruction from dispersants or the spill itself, I’m torn. The author, bless his heart, comes off as a crank agitating just to be irritating. BP and the government come off as incompetent at best. And the commenters pose and posture in a parallel universe.

    I no longer know what to think. If the author is right, then I fear for our future because America is beyond redemption – and I get depressed. If the author is wrong, then I fear for our future because these people are destroying civil society with their delusions and partisan agendas – and I get depressed.

    I comfort myself with the knowledge that whatever damage has occurred will be apparent soon enough. If BP et al. are successful in covering it up, then it must not have been very bad to begin with.

    1. DownSouth

      Neil D,

      Do you work for the U.S. Department of the Interior? Or for BP?

      If you don’t, you certainly could have fooled me.

      To counter George Washington’s substantive argument, you give us a rhetorical argument.

      Why would you try to counter substance (facts, evidence, documentation) with rhetoric (talk, persuasion), and not substance? Could it be that there is no substantive argument you can make in defense of your position?

      1. R. U. Kidding

        DownSouth wrote:

        “Why would you try to counter substance (facts, evidence, documentation) with rhetoric (talk, persuasion), and not substance?”

        Fact doesn’t equal Truth
        Evidence doesn’t equal Truth
        Documentation doesn’t equal Truth

        George’s post equals Talk/Persuasion

        You are guilty of the same sin of which you accuse NeilD based on your reply. Do you work for a special interest group that is against the energy sector?

        Confirmation bias is tough to overcome isn’t it?

        Neil voices some skepticism about a grand conspiracy and you call him out as a propagandist and a fool. Your, and others, belief about this being a long-term catastrophe are just opinion and conjecture. Time will be the final arbiter.

        The spill was awful and humans and animals died. That is tragic. However, there is enough uncertainty to the ultimate cost to nature to not berate those that disagree with your preconceived notion of the situation. In fact, Yves even posted a link to a seemingly very balanced assessment of the situation some time ago

        In reality no one knows the truth yet. Don’t bash someone just because they don’t see things exactly the way you see them. It is concievable that this is an unmitigated disaster but it is also possible that it will turn out to be a non-event in a historical context.

        Disclosure: I have no affiliation with anything related to the energy industry, I do have a second home on Ochlocknee Bay near Panacea, FL (a house maybe an overstatement but my family loves it), and I have a lot more faith in mother nature’s ability to heal than I do in humanity’s ability to irreparably harm her.

        1. skippy

          You should look into natures shelf life (ability to heal) some time ie hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands years, sure the kids might not get sick or misdiagnosed. Although we already know the propensity for large corporate hand washing now…don’t we.

          Skippy…ahh green shoots never tested…nevermind eat it up.

          1. R. U. Kidding

            “You should look into natures shelf life (ability to heal) some time ie hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands years”

            Yes maybe and just maybe in a lot, I mean a lot, less time. Other oil spills haven’t required that scale of time anywhere that close for healing. Who knows in this situation? I guess you do! I will stand by my belief that you/”experts” and I don’t really know. Most of the time people have an agenda to promote. The oil companies, certainly. The environmentalists, certainly. I am in neither camp and will wait to see. Maybe I will die prematurely as a result of my being so naive, oh well.

          2. skippy

            Its you and other’s (people and wildlife) that I’m concerned about, your life[s and your offspring for generations to come. Just remember arsenic given in small doses over a long period will kill, it does not have to be one fatal dose and we are administering multiples of dose over a long time line….when will it be enough to kill us all or almost.

            Skippy…personally I don’t…trust.

        2. DownSouth

          R.U. Kidding said:

          “Fact doesn’t equal Truth
          Evidence doesn’t equal Truth
          Documentation doesn’t equal Truth”

          Well I guess we’re just as well turn the clock back to the Dark Ages then, and forget all that silly nonsense about the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

  5. brian

    BO believes in equal treatment under the law
    He is treating BP the same way he treated wall street

  6. JS

    This is a terrible disaster, but the fact that dead animals are removed at night does not necessarily mean that it’s done to avoid government oversight and possible fines. One would have to provide more evidence to prove that — otherwise, what we have is that the cleanup goes on day and night, as it should.

    All activity at the spill site is being done under government oversight. It is hard to believe that the responsible agencies do not keep daily photographic record of dead animals on the beach. And when they are removed, available evidence suggests that they go to federal labs, where they are counted and examined:

    Here is a fact sheet from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which employs hundreds of animal rescuers at the spill site:

    Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990,
    the responsible party – BP in the
    current case – is charged with hiring
    and funding firms to handle the many
    jobs required by a spill such as this,
    including wildlife rehabilitation. BP has
    hired Tri-State Rescue and Research
    and the International Bird Rescue
    Research Center, well-respected service
    providers that operate under existing
    permits issued by the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service. They
    work closely with the Service and state
    fsh and wildlife agencies to compile data
    accurately, complete necessary testing
    and support feld activities aimed at
    saving as many birds and wildlife as
    possible. Federal agencies, including the
    Service, are providing oversight of BP’s
    efforts in this and other areas.

    If what “George Washington” says is correct, then all the above is fiction. Without more specific evidence, all we have is that some people saw that some dead animals were removed at night. I wouldn’t assume that this was done without the government’s knowledge.

    1. LeeAnne

      BRITISH PETROLEUM has committed an ABOMINATION against the people and environment of the GULF of MEXICO. They have done it in the ordinary course of their routine business practices with government regulators in bed with them -in their case, literally.

      You cite a ‘fact sheet’ and claim that “One would have to provide more evidence to prove that — otherwise, what we have is that the cleanup goes on day and night, as it should.”

      The evidence British Petroleum needs for any credibility is the exercise of a FREE PRESS which has been refused illegally by British Petroleum at the point of a gun.

    2. DownSouth

      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a rogue agency which, along with its equally ugly twin in the U.S. Department of the Interior, the MMS, is bought and paid for.

      Funny how you so conveniently forgot about this:

      The federal agency [Fish and Wildlife Service] charged with protecting endangered species like the brown pelican and the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle signed off on the Minerals Management Service’s conclusion that deepwater drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico posed no significant risk to wildlife, despite evidence that a spill of even moderate size could be disastrous, according to federal documents.

  7. JS

    Some more information on this from

    Within each of the animal-rescue stations set up along the Gulf Coast is a makeshift morgue for oiled and ill creatures that didn’t make it. And behind the scenes, pathologists and laboratory staff are carefully cataloging each dead creature as part of larger criminal, civil and scientific inquiries into how the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has affected animals and their habitats.

    …government scientists and the seasoned nonprofits that the government usually hires to respond to major wildlife disasters have set up animal rescue centers along the coast.

    All birds that died during the cleaning process and birds found dead by shoreline crews are tagged with identifying information and recorded. Most are then frozen or archived according to strict legal and scientific protocols.

    At a later date, the birds could be examined more closely for the government’s criminal investigation against BP.

    It is just possible, in other words, that Fox News is not the most reliable source of information on this either.

    1. DownSouth

      Amazing how the BP shills come out of the woodwork.

      The propaganda campaign, a joint effort of BP and various government agencies, began the moment the spill began. Remember the 5,000 BOPD estimates touted both by BP and NOAA as sure truth? Then the next wave of lies and deceit used the same rhetorical strategy you use: “We don’t know what the true flow rate is, it’s impossible to estimate with any reliablility.”

      And if BP didn’t have anything to hide, why were reporters refused access?

        1. DownSouth

          Fox News is only one of several sources that GW cites.

          And again, if BP didn’t have anything to hide, why were reporters refused access?

      1. foxmarks

        Propaganda is issued by all sides. Learn to think critically.

        Do you really believe “reporters” are interested in some Platonic truth?

        1. R. U. Kidding

          Exactly! That is why I originally posted the Fact/Evidence/Documentation does not equal Truth to DownSouth. Both sides have “facts” to substantiate/confirm their own argument. However, just like in litigation both sides assemble facts with hopes for victory but only one side can have the truth.

          Is BP downplaying the impact-most likely? Are environmentalists and/or end-of-worlders playing up the impact-most likely? Most everyone has an agenda.

  8. JS

    “Amazing how the BP shills come out of the woodwork.”

    Well this makes clear how good you are are figuring things out.

    The issue being discussed was not BP’s role, but the alleged Obama administration’s collusion with BP to hide damage to wildlife. I find the “evidence” for this lacking at this point. George Washington presents two videos with his article, which he seems to find convincing. One is from Fox, which has some guy talking about currently circulating rumors. The other has an interview of Riki Ott with Olbermann. At the end of the interview, Olbermann appears somewhat uncomfortable and asks Ott for her evidence. The MSNBC transcript:

    OLBERMANN: On the premises that all this is being done and you‘re certain this is – … what is the evidence that you can present to support your claim?

    OTT: I put several photographs on “Huffington Post” of literally a bird‘s head and a rake and the head being separated. We are—I can get pictures of the early—of the raked beaches in the morning from the turtle watch volunteers. I‘m also going to ask people to start taking pictures of their skin rashes and blisters. This is coming in from surfers now and from the turtle watch volunteers as well as the workers.

    There may be evidence for the allegations out there, and we may see it some day, but I don’t think we have seen anything convincing yet, unless you consider the above convincing (Olbermann did not seem to). Another “interview” on HuffPo has someone who claims thousands of dead large animals on the outer islands, only every time word about that comes from a fisherman and they send out a plane they find that all the dead animals have all been stealthily removed overnight. At this point, all these rumors are of a truther/birther quality. I’m not taking a position — only stating that convincing evidence for US government corruption on this does not seem to be available at this point.

  9. John Smith

    It’s ridiculous that BP gets the blame for every dead fish or turtle. Animals die ALL THE TIME. And then new ones come along. It’s perfectly natural. We call it “The Cycle of Life”. You can’t pin that one on BP. Of course people working to clean up the gulf will encounter the caracasses of dead animals, birds and fish as they do so. There is absolutely no evidence that any creature is dying in any greater numbers than usual.

    1. JS

      Wait — that’s stretching things in the other direction. I think there is plenty of evidence that the oil has killed a lot of wildlife before its time. I don’t see how one can argue that this hasn’t been a major environmental disaster in many ways. But the conspiracy theories, especially the ones involving active government complicity in a cover-up — those are, I think, “not proven”.

    2. Moe Green

      Hmm. People die all the time too and then new ones come along. Why worry! No need to sweat muurders and disease…

  10. Lynn D.

    “This present window of opportunity, during which a truly peaceful and interdependent world order might be built, will not be open for too long – We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.”David Rockefeller Sept. 23, 1994

    “History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it’s issuance.” James Madison

    “We know in the not too distant future, a half dozen corporations are going to control the media. We took this step (merger) to ensure we were one of them”–Time Warner spokesperson.

    “The CIA owns every one of any significance in the major media.” —William Colby Former Director of the CIA—Murdered/Assassinated.

    “The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.” J. Edgar Hoover

    “We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered.” –Rupert Murdoch Feb 24, 2009

    “Whenever there is trouble in Europe, wherever rumours of war circulate and men’s minds are distraught with fear of change and calamity you may be sure that …Rothschild is at his games somewhere near the region of the disturbance.” British Labour Leader- 1891

    “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” — Dresden James

    “No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is far worse than you imagine.” William Blum

    “The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise their power from behind the scenes.”– Justice Felix Frankfurter, U.S. Supreme Court.

    “What luck for the rulers that men do not think.” Adolph Hitler

    In 1881, Unites States President Garfield was elected as President. He stated “Whoever controls the volume of money in our country is absolute master of all industry and commerce…& when you realise that the entire system is very easily controlled…by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.”2 weeks after making that statement, President Garfield was killed.

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