Not a Time for Rest (A Message for BP)

August 2nd – 8:54Am

New Orleans, LA – Going out Saturday in Barataria Bay with local resident Al Walker and members of the Jean-Michel Cousteau team, it was evident that the effects of the spill were still very strong there. Leaving out of Myrtle Grove Marina, in Port Sulpher, we came across oil in the water and on land, including a number of covered marshes, with crude so thick that it was seeping back into the water; the grass was stained jet black and the fumes were nauseating. Even more disturbing was the fact that we were still about 100 miles away from the source. Later, the Cousteau team did some diving and underwater filming, which revealed submerged oil particles and layers of unknown substances in the water.  On our way back to the marina our path took us directly through a large stretch of dispersed oil and sheen, spanning miles in every direction. Much of the oil there was a thicker, reddish substance that spotted the surface, likely having been treated with dispersant. Mixed in was the thin rainbow-colored sheen swirling about the top of the water.  The entire area is still being affected, oil was in the water, on its surface, and in the marshes.  And so it was to our obvious confusion that only a handful of cleanup workers were in the area; there is a massive job to be done and yet no one is there to do it.  BP isn’t employing the necessary resources, not by a long shot, nor are the various branches of government involved and the now, after months of dutiful coverage, the national media is failing to hold them accountable as well.

On July 26th, a NY Times Breaking News Alert went out that said, “Gulf Surface Oil Vanishing Quickly“.  NY Times writers Justin Gillis and Campbell Robertson cited John Amos, President of SkyTruth, an “environmental advocacy group that sharply criticized the early, low estimates of the leak.  In his story, after examining the previous day’s radar images of the Gulf, Amos commented that “that oil slick is really starting to dissipate pretty rapidly.”  On his blog the same day, Amos posted that “scattered dark patches of slick and sheen are spread across a wide area, but it appears that the oil slick created by the Macondo well blowout is steadily dissipating, and no new oil can be found around the well site.”  However, Mr. Amos’ post from July 29th reveals new data from July 28th’s satellite images, admitting that his earlier testimony that oil slick is dissipating was false (the article is titled BP/Gulf Oil Spill- Curb Your Enthusiasm).  SkyTruth’s radar images from July 28th show considerable amounts of sheen and slick.  Our flight over the affected area on July 29th revealed the same.

On the 28th, ABC news reported, that “Cleanup Crews Can’t Find Crude in Gulf.” In the article, ABC News claims to have surveyed a marsh area and found no oil, but doesn’t give any details about which marsh they searched in.

For a Yahoo! online exclusive, AP writer John Carey states on July 28th,

“Where is all the oil? Nearly two weeks after BP finally capped the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, the oil slicks that once spread across thousands of miles of the Gulf of Mexico have largely disappeared. Nor has much oil washed up on the sandy beaches and marshes along the Louisiana coast.”

Internationally, the UK’s Daily Telegraph proclaimed, “Was Tony Hayward right after all?

It’s not too soon for a scale back,” says incoming BP CEO Bob Dudley , “you probably don’t need to see people walking up and down the beaches in hazmat suits.”

And scale back is exactly what they’ve done. From Panama City to Venice, there have been an increasing number of layoffs, further worrying local officials that BP is leaving.  At Myrtle Grove Marina, a staging ground for boats with the Vessels of Opportunity program, we didn’t see a single VOO boat and it was to our obvious confusion that only a handful of cleanup workers were in the area.  With the immense job remaining, how could BP be “scaling back”?  If they continue to decrease the number of employees working to clean the marshes, beaches, and bays, how will they ever clean the enormous amount of oil that continues to wash up in coastal Louisiana and beyond?  There is oil everywhere, thick like deep mud, and if they don’t clean it now, who will? And who is going to cleanup the catastrophic amount of oiled boom washed up in the marshes and on the remote beaches?

Is it time for us to pack up and go home? Will people’s lives return to normal, as if this “gulf oil leak” never happened?  That’s what BP would like us to think, and their friends in the media are certainly helping them.  Simply take into consideration the firestorm of press this past week, announcing that the spill is essentially contained and cleaned, the story effectively over. We beg to differ.  Does the media know where to go to find oil?  Is this a public relations stunt by BP?  Of these answers, we’re unsure, but one thing is certain: this cleanup is not over.

Alex Feld &
Nicholas Stone Schearer

(view our Media Gallery for more images from Saturday and beyond)

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One comment

  1. this is real news and needs to get out beyond your web site. can you send it to all the national media/reporters so they can pick it up and go national with it, interviewing you and other key observers who are on the scene and can give authentic, firsthand reports.
    good work!!

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