+ A cleanup contractor is slashing employees’ wages by between $4 and $10 per hour, “citing a shift from emergency-response operations to a long-term cleanup program.”

+ BP has made an initial deposit of $3 billion in its $20 billion compensation fund. Kenneth Feinberg is set to take over on Aug. 23. The company has yet to pay (or deny) some 39,000 claims, many of which are expected to be deferred to Feinberg.

+ The relief well is down to the final 100 feet, but progress has been delayed by storms.

+ University of South Florida researchers say the government tried to silence their confirmation of oil plumes below the surface.

+ Inadequate training and stressful, tiring conditions have contributed to accident risks on offshore drilling rigs, The Washington Post reports.

Oil in the gulf food chain? Perhaps not.
Blue crabs are being studied as an indicator species to track whether oil has entered the gulf food chain.

Scientists will be focusing on crabs because they’re a “keystone species” that play a crucial role in the food web as both predator and prey, Perry said.

Richard Condrey, a Louisiana State University oceanographer, said the crabs are “a living repository of information on the health of the environment.”

Adults could be harmed by direct contact with oil and from eating polluted food. But scientists are particularly worried about the vulnerable larvae.

As NOAA scientist Buck Sutter has been quoted, “I don’t think [petroleum hydrocarbons] being passed through the food chain is an issue,” in part because fish can easily metabolize and excrete the oil from their bodies.

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