Are we witnessing BP's "Mission Accomplished" moment? The headlines suggest that the war on the spill has at last been won: The well is being capped, the oil is dispersing more rapidly than expected, and the nightmare is finally over. But behind the reassuring story line is a far more complex and disturbing reality, as Mother Jones' September/October cover story, being released online this week, reveals.
In "The BP Cover-Up," Julia Whitty reports on new science that reveals the worst effects of the spill may be hidden in the darkness of the deep ocean. True, much of the oil that spewed from the well may never reach the surface or wash up on a beach—but that doesn't mean it's any less lethal, locked away down below. There, beyond the reach of sunlight, lives one of the richest communities of plants and animals on the planet, an ecosystem that if sacrificed could trigger a cataclysm for even the most plentiful of marine species.
It is this deep region, home to the most abundant kinds of fish on the planet, that is being fouled by the oil/dispersant mixture BP created when it pumped nearly 2 million gallons of toxic dispersants into the Gulf, much of it directly at the wellhead, a technique never attempted before. In "Bad Breakup," Mother Jones' Washington-based environmental reporter Kate Sheppard details why BP isn't required to tell us, or even the government, exactly what the dispersants do.
From the beginning Mother Jones has had a spill team deployed to cover all aspects of this tragedy, from Mac McClelland's groundbreaking on-the-scene coverage from the moment oil made landfall, to Kate Sheppard's and Josh Harkinson's savvy pursuit of the particulars behind cleanup science, to award-winning science writer Whitty's research. They have given voice to the spill's human victims, dug into the environmental impact of BP's "cleanup," and exposed the regulatory debacle that led to the catastrophe. Our oil spill team is ready to discuss the key questions still unanswered about the spill. They provide a must-read reality check on the spill spin machine—a need that's more vital than ever, now that much of the media seems content to assume the case is closed.