July 29th – 9:20PM
New Orleans, LA – In recent days, we’ve seen reports that oil has “disappeared” from the Gulf’s waters, having been skimmed, diluted, or, perhaps, even having evaporated. The New York Times went so far as to question whether it might be time to scale down response efforts. With the recent success of the temporary cap, these reports inspired some hope, but mostly suspicion. Did the oil we’ve witnessed looming in the Gulf, from here to as far east as Panama City, really disappear? Were the cleanup crews more effective than we first thought? Sadly, our flight today answered those questions with a resounding no. We saw stretches of sheen and thicker, reddish oil that spanned the sea for miles, often surrounded and dotted with a foamy white substance that we believed to be dispersant. No doubt, the oil is still there, however BP’s use of dispersant and their tactic of skimming the oil off the water’s surface have created the (much intended) illusion that the oil is no longer there in such quantities and that the situation is under control. This is not that case; take a look at our photos from today and you can see for yourself.
It appears BP has, if nothing else, succeeded in its PR efforts. Continuing to do so will be no minor feat; a number of Louisiana fishermen employed by BP for the cleanup effort have recently been let go, and many in the area are fearing that BP is planning on scaling back in the coming weeks and months. Over the plane’s radio we could hear the chatter of various BP workers, one of whom clearly stated his concerns for BP’s “pulling out”, saying that Timbalier, in particular, needed serious work before they do. The fisherman-turned-cleanup workers are at the forefront of this crisis, on the ground and in the thick of it and they are sounding anxious and concerned about what their new employers have in mind for the future.
Having witnessed the cleanup efforts on a regular basis, it’s clear that they need to be increased significant, not decreased, if the Gulf is going to be resuscitated. BP has yet to employ the necessary resources to do so and it is clear that the government needs to step up and become more active participants (or..leaders) in this process. A corporation such as BP, whose goal is to profit and whose duty is to its shareholders, can not be trusted to do what is best for our nation, this region, and the people that live here and they have proved that to us time and time again. So while time will expose the facts, but the question is, where will BP be by then?