22 March 2012

Here We Go Again

I didn't think I'd be following up on the story of the Chevron oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro State so soon (the first blogpost, The Language of Oil Spills, was published last December 19th) but here we are. I can't help it, the story is just too juicy, and too much in my face, considering it's directly off my coast. You see, there's been a second "spill incident," as Chevron likes to call these things, this after Chevron had been prohibited from further perforations of the sea bed. And as if relations between Chevron and the Brazilian government weren't already badly strained, once again Chevron was slow to announce the leak. In fact, ten days after the leak was first announced Brazil's authorities were still in the dark. Was this a new leak? Or continued leaking from the first fissure? Did Chevron's containment cement crack? Or were they still drilling where and when they shouldn't have been? Fingers are pointing, accusations are flying, and last week Chevron abruptly announced "temporary" suspension of oil production from that offshore well.

This is one gallon . . .
Chevron claims that this second leak was just five liters (1.32 gallons). The Brazilian Navy, overflying the area, says it's a lot bigger than that. But for the Brazilian government, the amount of oil spilled is not what's important. What's important is the problem of recurrence, the disrespect of prior orders to stop drilling, the lack of clear information from Chevron and the fact that the company had not taken the necessary steps after the first spill to avoid this second one. Chevron was already facing (and appealing) a fine of $100 million for its role in last November's spill. In a newfound spirit of toughness, Brazilian prosecutors plan to file criminal charges this week against Chevron and Transocean and have ordered that the passports of 17 Chevron and Transocean executives be handed over to the Federal Police. These executives hail from all over, from the U.S., Australia, England, Canada, France and Brazil. Doesn't even matter if they relinquish their passports or not, all of their names are in the Federal Police system and there's no getting past Immigration at the airports now. These guys are stuck here pending investigation.

Pilots Lepore  & Palladino
Some people believe Brazil is reacting all out of proportion, particularly in confiscating passports, but I'll just bet Brazil is thinking about the two American pilots who were involved in a mid-air collision between a Gol passenger airliner and the business jet the Americans were piloting in 2006. All passengers and crew of the airliner were killed in the collision. The business jet landed safely, with some damage. After being kept in Brazil for two months, the two pilots were allowed to leave the country after signing a document promising to return to Brazil for their trial or when required by Brazilian authorities. I'm sure Brazil knows it's seen the last of those two pilots on Brazilian soil. In May of 2011 a Brazilian judge sentenced them to four years and four months of prison in a semi-open facility for their role in the collision, then commuted the sentences to community service to be performed in the United States. The pilots plan to appeal the conviction but, in the meanwhile, fly the friendly skies at will.

**NOTE TO MY E-MAIL FOLLOWERS: It seems that not all the videos I use in each blogpost are carried over to the e-mails. This isn't the worst thing in the world, but the terrific opening theme number of the old TV show, Baretta, sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. and beloved by all Baretta-lovers, wasn't at the top of my March 19th blogpost, Don't Do the Crime if You Can't Do the Time, as it should have been. The video made sense of the title and set the whole tone. So, if you want a more complete experience of that post, click on the web site itself.

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