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The Cost of Silence
by Karen Pecota

Award-winning documentary director, entrepreneur and a former twenty-year veteran oilfield diver reveals a devastating public health crisis stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill disaster in his latest documentary The Cost of Silence. Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Mark Monroe comes along side of Manning to write the screenplay of this incredibly heart-wrenching story drawn from nine years of research that had to be done in secret.

This is all about the collaboration of government and industry to silence the victims horrifically affected by the oil-spill in order to pave the way for offshore oil drilling to open up along the “entire” U.S. Coastline. Under the Trump administration this is set to green light after the 2020 presidential election. Manning says, "The plan is the world's most extensive offshore drilling expansion endeavor, a project that relies on this story remaining untold."

Manning and Monroe present a very compelling case of the devastation on human lives from the spill. A decade later the dangerous toxins still loom in the air and in the soil off the Gulf Coast--and spreading. Out of a moral obligation, their findings push them to reveal and fight against the decisions the government and industry have selfishly taken for profit and the total disregard of the value of human and oceanic life. They believe this voice needs to be heard around the world. Manning and Monroe hope The Cost of Silence will bring awareness for social change to fight against such environmentally dangerous acts on humanity. They developed a social impact campaign to begin at the release of the film. It is designed to put this issue on the national agenda in the 2020 elections and empower large-scale social action. Their impact campaigns ENGAGE include a web platform and two apps that will empower audiences to immediately engage in partner organizations that are ongoing.

Manning gives perspective on the situation not only as an investigator but as a professional oilfield diver. "I knew the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in 5000 feet of ocean water was going to be catastrophic." He adds, "No one had ever tried to cap a well this deep or clean up this much oil. For 187 days, the oil gushed unabated into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. I thought that this event would be the end of the oil business as we knew it." He continues, "Over nine and a half years of uncovering this story and scores of production trips across the Gulf States, I began to realize that the catastrophic consequences of America's largest environmental disaster are being hidden from the world." Noting, "The victims erased, like the oil."


The Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 was the world's worst offshore oil drilling accident in history. The contamination initially spread over 68,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. Millions of human lives were affected not to mention the surrounding sea life. The lingering oil deposits were seen from the air for miles. BP felt that if one could not see the contaminants then one could easily believe the danger was gone.

So, to make the oil disappear, toxic chemicals called “dispersants” were sprayed over the ocean in unprecedented amounts. Though highly toxic the experts deemed it harmless! The visual images did go away over time and the crisis appeared to be forgotten since the world was told that the “clean-up” was successful--lives were saved. An oilfield insider was suspicious of this propaganda and decided to investigate. A contrary story evolves in The Cost of Silence.

The findings showed, from several toxicology and medical experts, how dispersants make their way into the environment and are observed in the human body. Government documents found show that the toxicity of the dispersants was a known factor prior to its usage on the oil spill and studies revealed that the toxins found are 52x more dangerous than the oil itself. Whistleblowers came forward to describe and document that they personally observed aerial spraying of dispersants not just offshore but seen over crowded beaches and communities inland. Sadly, the spraying of dispersants continues today.

The only thing successful yet harmful has been the cover-up that paved the way for the 2018 Trump administration's announcement of the largest offshore oil development plan in fossil fuel history. The plan is in place now for the use of the dispersants to be used along the U.S. Coast if and when another oil spill occurs. That is to say that the ports around the world are already stocked and pre-approved for disbursement.

The interviews of the individuals that tell their story of being robbed of the quality of life hoped for from the oil spill cover-up will sadden your heart and anger your soul to action.