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Chernobyl Then, the Gulf Now: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind (Even when it's not out of sight)

Story by Dahr Jamail
Photography by Erika Blumenfeld


The Deepwater Horizon by Erika Blumenfeld

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld 2010

Since BP announced that CEO Tony Hayward would receive a multi-million dollar golden parachute and be replaced by Bob Dudley, we have witnessed an incredibly broad, and powerful, propaganda campaign. A campaign that peaked this week with the US government, clearly acting in BP's best interests, itself announcing, via outlets willing to allow themselves to be used to transfer the propaganda, like the New York Times, this message: "The government is expected to announce on Wednesday that three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak has already evaporated, dispersed, been captured or otherwise eliminated -- and that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm."

The Times was accommodating enough to lead the story with a nice photo of a fishing boat motoring across clean water with several birds in the foreground.

This message was disseminated far and wide, via other mainstream media outlets like the AP and Reuters, effectively announcing to the masses that despite the Gulf of Mexico suffering the largest marine oil disaster in US history, most of the oil was simply "gone."

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Thus, it's only what is on the surface that counts. If you can't see it, there is not a problem.

This kind of government cover-up is nothing new, of course.

"It is well known that after the Chernobyl accident, the Soviet government immediately did everything possible to conceal the fact of the accident and its consequences for the population and the environment: it issued "top secret" instructions to classify all data on the accident, especially as regards the health of the affected population," journalist Alla Yaroshinskaya has written.

In 1990 Yaroshinskaya came across documents about the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe that revealed a massive state cover-up operation, coupled with a calculated policy of disinformation where the then Soviet Union's state and party leadership knowingly played down the extent of the contamination and offered a sanitized version to the public, both in and out of Russia. To date, studies continue to show ongoing human and environmental damage from that disaster.

When the disaster at Chernobyl occurred, it was only after radiation levels triggered alarms at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant in Sweden that the Soviet Union admitted an accident had even occurred. Even then, government authorities immediately began to attempt to conceal the scale of the disaster.

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Sound familiar?

In late April, after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank into the depths and the Macondo well began gushing oil, BP and the complicit Coast Guard announced no oil was being released.The Gulf Restoration Network flew out to the scene and saw massive amounts of oil and sounded the alarm, which forced BP and the US government to admit there was, indeed, oil. Such has the trend of BP/US Government lying, countered by (sometimes) forced accountability, then to more lying, been set.

These most recent, and most blatant of the BP/US Government propaganda gems are easily undermined by countless facts. Reality and truth always, given time, find a way to surface"just like BP's dispersed oil.

Two captains of so-called "vessels of opportunity" helping with the cleanup recently told Times-Picayune reporter Bob Marshall that they saw more oil at South Pass on Tuesday than they have during the entire crisis.

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www.dahrjamailiraq.com
DAHR JAMAIL He is author of the book Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq. Jamail's work has been featured on National Public Radio, the Guardian, The Nation, and The Progressive. He has received many (more...)
 

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