Documentary spills secrets of BP oil controversy

By Sarah Bergen

Josh and Rebecca Tickell realize all that glitters is not gold during their investigation of the Beyond Petroleum (BP) oil spill, revealing unsavory methods taken to conceal the severity of the incident.

Rider students gathered in Sweigart Auditorium on Tuesday and Wednesday to watch the 2012 documentary “The Big Fix” by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, which revealed the lies and corruption surrounding the notorious Beyond Petroleum (BP), formerly British Petroleum, oil spill that ravaged the environment in and around the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
Horrified by the devastation of the BP oil spill, Tickell, who was raised in Louisiana, and his wife set out to expose the horrifying effects of this disaster. After intensive investigations, they assembled their findings and constructed a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking film.
The film asserts that in the minds of millions around the world, the massive disaster is only remembered as an unfortunate accident. However, as the documentary uncovers, the oil spill catastrophe was more than a mere accident — there was little done to avoid this tragedy and it was precipitated by greed and neglegence.
By preventing journalists from gaining access to the beaches of the gulf, BP misled and blinded the media, concealing its own mistakes in the meantime. According to the film, safety systems were shut down in order to allow the oil rig to drill faster. Ultimately, BP’s greed was the true source of this accident.
Oil flowed into the gulf for 87 days, killing marine life including shrimp, turtles, dolphins and alligators among others. When the rig was finally capped with mud and the oil flow stopped, BP began its extensive cleanup. However, it once again took the easy route out.
To be eliminated, oil must be skimmed or burned, otherwise it will rest on the surface of water. Rather than cleaning up the mess the proper way, though, BP sprayed an acutely toxic dispersant chemical known as Corexit into the gulf. This particular chemical works to break down oil into small bubbles which can sink into the sand, successfully masking the pollution. The chemical is toxic to both human and aquatic life. However, this was not enough to place any guilt into the consciences of BP executives.
When BP announced that there was no trace of oil or dead marine life in the gulf, the Tickells found these claims hard to believe. They snuck onto guarded beaches and waters and sought out the truth. The filmmakers and their crew discovered oil under a thin layer of sand on the beaches, dead creatures washed onto the shores, and they even captured workers on film spraying Corexit into the waters of the gulf.
In the film, Louisiana residents’ eyes welled with tears as they shared accounts of the radical changes their lives underwent after the spill. Corexit contaminated the air and drinking water, leaving residents with a wide array of long-term health problems. According to, the active ingredient in Corexit is a neurotoxin which causes cancer, damage to internal organs and reproductive side effects.
Seeing and hearing about the ongoing consequences disturbed some viewers, like sophomore behavioral neuroscience major Nicole Abate.
“The worst part was seeing the sores people got on their skin which proved how harmful the chemical was,” Abate said. “BP still didn’t care and continued to spray it.”
The BP oil spill shocked the entire world and filled news reports for just a few months. However, drilling continues just miles from our coasts, causing people to wonder what it will take for us to speak up and make a change in this corrupt business. As the film’s tagline states, the truth is indeed deep beneath the surface.

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