REALITY CHECK: News on the BP Oil Spill

by | Jun 10, 2010 | POLITICS

Written by Richmond native Jean of phenomina78.xanga.com. These are her views and should not be considered a news report but a first person account of the situation down in Louisiana with the BP Oil Spill.

My sadness has turned to outrage! As planned, I was up and out the door by 6 a.m. heading down to Grand Isle, LA where, as you hopefully already know, the majority of the oil in Louisiana has hit the shores. BP has claimed the beach fronts for cleaning and they are off-limits to civilians. You can; however, drive to Grand Isle State Park and walk out on the fishing pier to see the coastline. You want to know what I saw?

Written by Richmond native Jean of phenomina78.xanga.com. These are her views and should not be considered a news report but a first person account of the situation down in Louisiana with the BP Oil Spill.

My sadness has turned to outrage! As planned, I was up and out the door by 6 a.m. heading down to Grand Isle, LA where, as you hopefully already know, the majority of the oil in Louisiana has hit the shores. BP has claimed the beach fronts for cleaning and they are off-limits to civilians. You can; however, drive to Grand Isle State Park and walk out on the fishing pier to see the coastline. You want to know what I saw?

Reality Check #1
Oil and lots of it. Oh and let’s not forget about the small crews of BP workers with shovels, slowly scraping the oil soaked sand up and into garbage bags. The crews were marked by cabana tents that provide shade for the workers from the blistering sun. These tents are probably a couple hundred feet apart and sporadically dot the shore.

There aren’t enough crews! Here is the harsher reality, because of the sweltering heat (felt like 102 with humidity) these small crews have been instructed to only work for 15 minutes and then take a 45 minute break. I get it… it’s hot… I don’t think I’ve ever had to hydrate so much in my life. My problem with this picture is that there weren’t enough crews out there to ROTATE! Let’s be generous (and I am being VERY generous) and say that there are 50 tents with crews of 15 people that work an eight hour shift… that means those crews worked a TOTAL OF TWO HOURS TODAY. How can a few hundred people that work a total of two hours a day clean up what is now estimated to be 600,000 to 1.2 MILLION GALLONS OF OIL A DAY spewing into the Gulf of Mexico?

Reality Check #2
It was like driving in a ghost town. I had the pleasure of meeting some shrimpers and retired fisherman today who have called Grand Isle home for anywhere from 30 to 64 years. When we were talking, I asked several different questions about what kind of response they have seen here. They’ve had media come in sporadically, but nothing to “write home about”. Ray-Ray, one of the shrimpers I spoke with (Hi Ray-Ray!), said that a reporter from New York interviewed him, but when he saw the story he hadn’t said most of what the article quoted.

YOU DON’T SEE WHAT I SEE! Please stop watching your news and start reading or watching the news online straight from the source! The fact that the front lines are a ghost town and being completely controlled by BP is despicable. Below are several links to news stations here.

http://www.nola.com
http://www.wdsu.com
http://www.wwltv.com
http://www.fox8live.com

Reality Check #3
Did you know Louisiana supplies the nation with almost 30% of it’s seafood? These poor people are hurting for a number of reasons. Firstly, the majority of the fishing waters are closed. Secondly, people are justifiably apprehensive about eating seafood from this region. The reality is that at this point the seafood is safe. It is being tested, etc. but people are scared. I get that too.

The shrimpers and fisherman I spoke to today have received and will receive anywhere from $2500 to $5000 (depending on company size) monthly from BP. That’s great, except I can’t think of one business owner that can support a business, pay a payroll for employees that aren’t working and provide for a family on that amount of money. Especially when they are used to making approximately $3000 per day during their season. Shrimping only lasts about four months and then there is no work for the next eight. They make all of their money during that time frame, so how exactly is about $10,000 supposed to compensate around $360,000 in losses? It is expensive to live here. Wind insurance alone costs an upwards of $100,000 a year. Do these people just forego insurance during hurricane season in order to feed themselves?

Reality Check #4
The local dock owners are usually sold out of dock space this time of year. There is usually a waiting list. The hotels, motels, and rental properties are usually booked solid throughout the summer, especially right now. On Memorial Day weekend, a local bait shop and dock owner would typically make $24,000 just on that weekend. This past Memorial Day weekend, he made less than $2000. It took everything in my power to keep my composure when his father looked at me and said, “I’m 86 years old and have lived here since 1946 when I returned from WWII. What’s the end of my life going to be like?”

Reality Check #5
The poor, poor wildlife. This entire ecosystem is quickly being destroyed. As I was driving around, I decided to get out at a couple of random houses (if I saw someone outside – I didn’t trespass, good girl!) to ask if I could take some pictures from their docks. One retired fisherman in particular, let me sit on his dock for as long as I wanted. I was probably out there for a good hour or so. In that time period, I saw several heron, egrets, brown pelicans and dolphins. A few of them had oil splotches and splatters, but they were able to fly. This gentlemen’s house was on the bay side, so the oil hasn’t come in the giant globs that I saw at the beach side. It was there, but not horrible (YET). The majority of the oiled birds are being found in the marsh islands where the brown pelicans and other birds nest. You can only access it by boat, so I just have to find a boat.

Oiled Pelicans Discovered Near Grand Isle (www.wdsu.com)

The US Fish & Wildlife Service reported that in Louisiana 415 oiled birds have been retrieved from the Gulf since the explosion on April 22. Within the last week, 127 (31%) of them were found. This is going to get a lot worse.

OUTRAGED YET? It is time to start emailing, calling, and writing your State Representatives. Enough is enough! We can bail out the banking industry which has arguably misled us into paying millions of dollars (and we are still paying them), but we can’t save our own countrymen. AWESOME.

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




more in politics

Editorial Roundtable on the Richmond & Virginia Elections 

As we find ourselves in the middle point of summer, the upcoming months will bring pivotal decisions for our community as we elect our next mayor, city council and school board members followed by the gubernatorial election next year. Over the past few months, we have...

Dispatch From Cuba 2015

I wanted to give a bit of context for this piece. I was introduced to Bill one afternoon at the local watering hole by a mutual friend. Bill, a talented and experienced writer, shared some of his work with me, and I was interested to read more. When I asked if he had...

News or Noise: How Irresponsible Journalism Threatens Our Democracy

Immediately after the first presidential debate, journalists wasted no time amplifying Biden’s poor performance. And so the narrative begins. Or rather, continues. Over the last few years, news outlets have been reporting on the advanced ages of both presidential...

RVA 5×5 | Bonding With (Or Against) The People?

There has been a lot of activity across the region recently about bond ratings and localities issuing bonds. It is a timely comparison of priorities of local leaders, a glimpse of a possible future, and what happens if you have people in charge who worry more about...

Topics: