Thousands of internal documents relating to last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have been uploaded to a new website which aims to help local communities file compensation claims and discover the true causes of the disaster.
The new ‘Polluter Watch Research’ website, which is operated by Greenpeace, allows users to search approximately 30,000 pages of previously unseen documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws.
These include internal government correspondence with BP, evidence of conflict between scientists and officials and even flight records from pilots operating in the region.
Commenting on the documents Kert Davies, research director at Greenpeace USA said
“Both BP and the federal government tried to hide the true impacts of the biggest oil disaster in American history. We’re hoping that the PolluterWatch research site can help expose how they did it and allow local people to get the compensation they deserve.
“The fact is this kind of event will happen again unless our leaders realize what happened here and start to get tough with big oil and serious about clean, renewable energy instead.”
The Gulf Restoration Network, a local group focused on working for restoration and protection of the Gulf environment and communities, is today calling on its members to log on to the website and begin the process of sifting the evidence.
“Since the BP oil disaster began, the public has often been misled or left in the dark. By bringing all these documents to light, there is a great opportunity to tell the true story of BP’s impact on the Gulf and the failure of government to effectively respond,” said Aaron Viles, Deputy Director of the Gulf Restoration Network.
A fraction of the documents released today have already been analyzed by Greenpeace researchers. Highlights include how:
· An infamous government claim about the spill’s impact was hotly contested by the scientists involved who flatly state “it is not accurate to say that 75% of the oil is gone”.
· Government officials, to the dismay of qualified experts, seriously underplayed the oil’s impact on marine life including turtle populations.
· BP appears to have been in sole charge of issuing permits to trained scientists wishing to access affected areas as the disaster unfolded.
The website allows people to sift though the documents by subject and flag any that they believe could show evidence of misconduct. These can be downloaded directly or sent for further examination by Greenpeace researchers.
The site also includes instructions on how the public can enter formal requests themselves, in an attempt to add further transparency to the government’s handling of the disaster.
The website will be added to as more FOIA documents are received. It can be viewed at http://www.polluterwatch.org/research
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