Tag Archives: BP oil spill

Black Gulf Fisherman – Struggling Mightily

In his August 28 New York Times article, Trymaine Lee reports,

Way down in the delta, just south of the Belle Chasse Ferry at Beshel’s Marina here, black men with work-worn hands and several generations of fishing in their blood sat around on old milk crates, hoping for a piece of the oil cleanup action that seems to have bypassed their little stretch of the bayou.

Nearly all of them have taken BP’s courses on oil cleanup, but few said they had been called to work; their little skiffs remain moored and forlorn, tied side-by-side like wretched sardines.

“The little guy loses again,” one of them lamented.

There was Hurricane Katrina five years ago. And now the great spill.

But even before those two blows, the fishermen in Pointe a la Hache and other small, historically African-American fishing towns and villages that dot the east bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, have long had to fight hard for every dollar, every oyster and every opportunity they could drag out of the bayou.

The Huffington Post adds,

But ever since the BP oil spill back in 2010, their hauls have gotten lighter and their hopes and prayers a bit dimmer. The seafood industry and the livelihood of those who make their money off the side of boats is collapsing beneath them, fishermen said.

“We don’t have millions of dollars sitting in the bank where we can go do something else. We live and die on the seafood industry. This is our culture,” said Byron Encalade, president of the Louisiana Oystermen Association. “This is how we live.”

The oysters in many beds haven’t reproduced, he said. And early reports from shrimpers said the outlook for this season doesn’t look good, if today’s catch is any indication.

Encalade blames the 87-day oil spill in the Gulf and the dispersants used by BP to thin the oil caked on the water for blighting the sea life here.

“I don’t know where this concept of ‘Everything is alright and they are doing what they are supposed to do’ came from,” he said. “These people are suffering down here, and I don’t think they have the slightest idea of how these communities are surviving. But they’re doing it on the back of Catholic Charities, nonprofits and each other.”

Encalade said BP’s public relations machine kicked into high gear from the start of the disaster, but he and others in the Delta know all too well how devastating the spill has been.

BP’s Oil Spill Is All Cleaned Up Now, Right?

Last night I argued with a friend who claimed that environmental damage is now under control in the United States, and offered the BP oil spill as evidence of how well environmental disasters are being handled, and their impact minimized. This is so not true, but it’s not enough to say so – it must be proven, so here are a few facts:

A post from the NY Times’ Green blog about the BP oil spill published on its anniversary in April shows that the associated problems have far from ended.

“Nearly 2,000 responders are actively working in the gulf to aid in the ongoing recovery efforts. We continue to hold BP and other responsible parties fully accountable for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused. We’re monitoring seafood to ensure its continued safety and implementing aggressive new reforms for offshore oil production in the gulf so that we can safely and responsibly expand development of our own energy resources. And E.P.A. Administrator Lisa Jackson is leading a task force to coordinate the long-term restoration effort based on input from local scientists, experts, and citizens.”

Law firm Beasley Allen publishes news on its website and has this to say about Dead Zones in the Gulf caused by the oil spill

Marine Biologists have issued a grim forecast for Gulf shrimpers and fishermen in the wake of the BP oil spill: the 2011 “Dead Zone” in the Gulf, they predict, will likely be the largest on record, choking some species of sea life and hindering others from properly migrating and developing. The implications of a super-size dead zone, estimated to grow as large as the size of Delaware and Maryland combined, could be huge . . .

While the BP oil spill isn’t directly responsible for the Mississippi River dead zone, the 200-million-plus gallons of oil and the millions of gallons of toxic chemical dispersants that BP dumped into the Gulf have caused a dead zone of their own. Scientists have found several square miles of Gulf sea bed blanketed by oil untouched by hungry microbes.

Pictures taken during submarine excursions to some of the oil-choked areas showed crabs, starfish, coral, tube worms, and other creatures smothered to death under thick blankets of oil. Highly toxic gases released from the well and noxious soot from the burning of oil on the surface have deepened the devastation. The effects of Corexit, the chemical dispersant used by BP to break the sludge into smaller particles, are still largely unknown and widely feared in the scientific community.

Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts’s 7th congressional district, adds these sobering thoughts: “Chris Jones, the brother of Gordon Jones, one of the 11 workers killed the night of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, delivered some of the most powerful and touching testimony I have seen in my 36 years in Congress.”

Congressman Markey also points out,

We now know BOPs (blowout preventers) don’t always work, even when they’re used correctly. We know the oil companies still don’t have full response capabilities, even if they’ve given their top hat a new coat of paint. And we know that the recommendations of the bipartisan spill commission haven’t been put in place.

Yet Republicans in Congress and the oil companies are still pushing for more drilling with less safety. This is the sort of willful ignorance and speed-over-safety mentality that led to the BP spill in the first place.

Other chilling reports showing that the effects of the BP oil spill are far from gone, can be found by googling “bp continues working in the gulf”.

I’d like to leave readers with hope for a better future: please keep in mind that current sweeping changes in ecology and climate are not natural occurrences – they are entirely due to man’s intervention. And, we are consuming much more of planetary resources than are available. The good news here is that as we are creating the problems, we can change our behaviour and begin to fix the world. As Jaime Cloud reminded my family recently, there’s “just enough time.”