Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago Photography, New Orleans Stories and Everywhere Politics…

The Amity Choice…

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Shark's kind of oily...

Spring Break is coming…

That annual rite of passage where drunken teens descend upon the beaches to get a rest from their studies and are often side by side with families, also on vacation from the thawing but still cold North is almost here, and all along the Gulf Coast, resorts and towns who typically make a great deal of money from this annual retreat are crossing their fingers. It’s been a pretty bad year…the economy, the now rising gas prices, the BP oil spill and the resulting tons of Corexit dumped into the waters to combat said oil spill…

So, is it safe for the people to spend time on the beaches? Is the sand and water clean, or is it poison?

It would depend on who you ask.

The CDC says all is well. The NOAA, the FDA and the EPA say all is well…come on down and have a fine time, and those are some pretty heavy hitters. It would appear safe to say that the Federal Government believes nobody will come to any harm by spending days on the beaches of the Gulf Coast, in the water, breathing the air, and the owners of the resorts, the people who work in these towns certainly hope the government is right.

We all do, even British Petroleum, who even while they scale back cleanup across the Gulf Coast continues to focus their attention on the sands of the resort towns, the places where the media doesn’t fear to tread because they know that Spring Break is a proving ground for progress. It’s the time where people will come to the Gulf from all over the country and see with their own eyes whether all their PR efforts, the commercials on television, radio and the internet are right, or are what many in the Gulf believe…a load of shit.

The last thing BP needs is another batch of dead dolphins to come rolling onto Panama City Beach while the MTV crews are around, or a massive fish kill, or a storm that might bring a few more tons of tar balls from the tar mats of oil offshore.

Its also the last thing business owners in the Gulf need.

And that brings us to a choice, the choice…

Nobody in the government wants to be Roy Scheider, the Sheriff of Amity running across the sand yelling, “Oil!”

The government instead chooses the uneasy role of the mayor, anxiety and defiance etched in his quickly aging face and threatening to fire anyone who finds the shark in them waters. Meanwhile, the business community of the Gulf Coast shares the anxiety, torn between trying to revive their economy and a creeping feeling of hope that nothing bad will happen, that the oil won’t come ashore and that nobody will get sick.

Having written on this subject for awhile and having spoken to many others who also write on this subject, it is much akin to writing about seafood safety in the Gulf. Logic would seem to dictate that if you dump that many toxins into a body of water that the seafood is unsafe, but to actually write that is something else entirely, because tugging at your conscience is also the knowledge that this meme would also harm the industry of a part of the country you care for very much, and a great many people who you care about.

As I mentioned, the choice is difficult, especially when you believe that the government and its agencies, as they have been throughout this whole catastraphuk, are only giving you part of the truth or their best case scenario. For British Petroleum and the government, logic and what you believe are unimportant. What is important is what you can prove, and they seem to believe nobody can prove the Gulf is unsafe.

All despite articles such as:

NASA Data Strengthens Reports of Toxic rain on the Gulf Coast From BP Spill – Jerry Cope

or

The BP Oil Disaster: Results from a Health and Economic Impact Survey in Four Coastal Louisiana Parishes

or all of the important information available from the website:

Florida Oil Spill Law

Again, the choice is a difficult one.

But, much as I wish it weren’t the case, I’ve read too much and heard the stories of too many people for me to bury my head in the sands cleaned by British Petroleum, and I am forced to add my voice to the growing crowd of people who are pointing at the surf yelling, “Oil…Oil…Oil…” because whereas I do believe in the importance of an improving economy, I also believe that more important are any potential health risks for the people, even more important than a full beach.

Have a nice day.

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