In this past week, it has been reported how, in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, British Petroleum had demanded via e-mail that it’s own expert be kept quiet when he gave his opinion stating 82,000 barrels of crude a day were coming from the Macondo Well. In fact, two days after ordering his silence, BP publicly announced their estimate that the flow rate was only 1,000 barrels per day. And of course, this report comes on the heels of another showing how the White House had been trying to get the United States Geologic Survey to downgrade its flow rate estimates in public statements too, reducing the USGS estimate of at least 25,000 barrels of oil per day coming from the well to a number the NIC thought sounded better, 12,000 to 25,000 barrels or better still, the estimate a White House Communications officer suggested, 12,000 – 19,000 barrels per day. Oh, and who can forget the wrongful termination lawsuit being filed by August Walters where he claims to have been fired by BP a couple of months back because he wouldn’t modify clean-up data to make the beaches appear cleaner on paper than they in fact truly were, thus allowing BP to say they’d turned the corner and in light if this data, come to an agreement with the Coast Guard to officially move from cleanup to restoration, all while eagerly anticipating the stock bump to come from such an announcement.
Yes, these are the assholes in charge making things right along the Gulf Coast, and yes, the oil company mentioned in the above paragraph is the same British Petroleum putting out all those feel good commercials telling you how everything is just swell now. Hey! The economy, the seafood and the jobs are back!
And now, today even, when it comes to that same oil company and that same government, I’m sure if you asked, they’d go on and on to tell you how it would be impossible for the low-balling of flow-rate numbers that lead to a potentially flawed cleanup response based on their bad data, and how the fact there is still more unaccounted for oil in the Gulf of Mexico than was spilled from the Exxon Valdez…yeah, they’ll tell you how none of this has anything to do with more dead dolphins…even if there still is oil along the Louisiana coast.
Of course not.
That would be fucking ridiculous, and potentially unprofitable…
“Since the beginning of the month, 14 marine mammals, including a dozen dolphins, have been found along the northern Gulf of Mexico. Half of the dead dolphins washed up on the Louisiana coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls it an “Unusual Mortality Event” in the northern Gulf and next month will mark two years since it began. The tally so far: 630 dead.
The event started in February of 2010 – two months before the oil spill began. Still, the deaths raise a red flag with the Gulf Restoration Network. “The ongoing death of these dolphins speaks to the idea that we haven’t seen all of the impacts from the BP oil drilling disaster end yet,” said Dan Favre of the Gulf Restoration Network.
Lawyers don’t know a whole hell of a lot about toxicology…
“Nicholas Forte has spent the last year with an array of health issues. Headaches. Migraines. Nausea. Breathing problems so severe they would land him in the hospital.
“We have no idea what it is,” the 22-year-old Battle Creek resident told Michigan Messenger. “Then it escalated to seizures.” And while the seizures landed him in the hospital — at one point stopping his heart and his breathing — doctors are at a loss to understand why. Tests indicate none of the expected patterns for epilepsy.
Finding out why the formerly healthy young man had suddenly fallen ill drove him and his family to listen to Riki Ott, an environmental toxicologist who has been tracking the health impacts of oil spills on human beings since her home was impacted by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Ott was in Battle Creek Wednesday night at the invitation of local activists. And when Forte asked Ott about his symptoms, she nodded an affirmative.
“We see that in 16-year olds in the Gulf,” she said. And Forte was not the only person she may have given much-needed answers to. Nearly 50 people gathered to talk about headaches, nausea, burning eyes, memory loss and rashes. There were young and old, African-Americans and whites, rural residents and city dwellers, all with one thing in common — they live by the Kalamazoo River and were exposed to last year’s Enbridge Energy Partners Lakehead Pipeline 6B.”
Ken Feinberg says, “Jesus, you didn’t actually watch all that did you? No? Thank God…oh, and she hasn’t proved a thing. Just check the methodology.”
Wow, sometimes Ken can’t buy a friend, whether it’s the politicians, the scientists or his boss…but hey, nobody ever said when it came to $20 billion dollars, giving away as little of it as possible would be easy. That’s why he’s getting the big bucks…$1.25 million dollars a month…but really, how much abuse can a guy take?
As many are aware by now, last week BP went one better than their past complaints of over-payments to claimants, by filing a strongly worded think piece on how the GCCF should stop making payments period…you know, because things are going so well now for everybody in the Gulf, what with the fish lesions, the closed beaches, the poor shrimping season and all that other, sciencey, environmental stuff…well, now a few more people are knocking on Ken’s door.
Tuesday, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood decided to file a lawsuit against Ken Feinberg and the GCCF, saying the oil spill claims czar has refused to turn over requested documents by claimants who signed waivers for Hood to review their claims.
Feinberg responded to the suit by calling Jim Hood a big fat liar:
“Prior to Memorial Day weekend, we met in D.C. with a number of his key staff and went through a summary of the claims process,” Feinberg continued (in an e-mail). “We reviewed 13 authorized claims and we went through the process as to how we determined eligibility and damages for those claims”
Feinberg also said they gave a total of 125 claims files, but Mr. Hood believes he is not getting all the pertinent information needed for an accurate assessment of those and other claims.
The Mississippi AG said… “Feinberg and the GCCF have continually made promises of compliance, but have failed to fully provide necessary information,” Hood said in a written statement. “All they have managed to do is delay, deny, deceive and dissemble.”
Yes, it would appear Ken Feinberg and the GCCF can’t operate in a transparent way even when directly addressing issues of their own transparency.
Hood wrote Feinberg needs to comply fully with his subpoena so he can then determine if Feinberg is acting in good faith, including such documents as:
–All agreements, including compensation agreements, between the claims operation and BP.
–All correspondence the claims operation has had with BP and the federal government.
–Proximity maps or other boundaries, zones or geographical areas used to process Mississippi claims.
–All communication between the claims operation and the experts it consulted with in determining its protocols and payment formulas.
–Individual claimant information, such as the amount of money requested and paid, how long the claim took to be processed, the reason for any denials or partial payments, and what if any additional documentation the claimant had to provide.
So, first BP’s got a problem with Ken. Then the Attorney General goes all legal on Feinberg…what else does this guy have to deal with (or ignore) this week?
Well, how about a few comments on the environmental recovery of the Gulf, stated by a couple of blasts from the past? Thursday is the anniversary of the Macondo well’s capping, leading to a number of “where are they now” articles including this one, where Ian MacDonald and David Hollander, two scientists who’ve been studying the Gulf from the beginning of this mess, take a walk down memory lane to recall how BP and the government lied and initially covered up the true rate of oil flow from the busted well-head, as well as commenting on the current environmental state of the Gulf and it’s possible future :
“…they say the story of what’s happening to the Gulf is just beginning. Hollander says a lot of the damage took place deep at the bottom of the Gulf. “With the accumulation of petroleum,” says, Hollander, “maybe you could call this a ‘dirty blizzard’ of materials sinking downward and accumulating on the sediment surface.”
“And that sediment a mile down in the Gulf has smothered much of the marine life – what Hollander calls a ‘toxic bathtub ring.’ Other tiny organisms are deformed. There are reports of dead dolphins and turtles washing ashore, and fish with suspicious lesions. “This could take decades, but I think you’ll start to see definitive responses within the ecosystem certainly on the order of five to seven years,” says Hollander. “So there’s that aspect of the living resource – which is really important – the fish health and safety, as we’re seeing with the fish lesions – these are really important questions which need to be addressed, we’re not going to be resolved within weeks, but more likely in months, to years.”
Years, several years…yet Feinberg intends to close shop in August of 2013, the date/timetable he’s used to base his claims payment methodology. Science continues to indicate this timetable is unrealistic. It isn’t enough time to gather a true understanding of possible damages to come, let alone do something about it and some might argue that’s the point…some might. In any case, the speedy recovery estimates could serve to save British Petroleum a great deal of money, especially if people continue to get sick, or if the ecosystem doesn’t bounce back so quickly…even if BP inexplicably tries to claim it already has.
“MacDonald agrees that we’re just starting to learn the effects of the spill.”
Perhaps these two men, a professor from FSU and an Oceanographer from USF, could be put more at ease if they just asked Mr. Feinberg his thoughts. He seems to know more about the health of the Gulf’s ecosystem than anyone…though if they did ask, Ken might decide to hold a few things back…(he seems to have issues with this (so does BP…))
Anyways Ken…I would love to sit here at my desk and show some compassion, you know, being a social worker and all but I can’t.
If I did, then when it comes to transparency, this would make me a hypocrite.
Oh…and one more thing in case you missed it…the House of Representatives took time away from both trying to bring back energy-wasting light bulbs and undoing the social safety net in order to deprive the White House of requested funds for ecosystem restoration in Louisiana.
A recent film, originally airing April 22nd on Discovery Planet Green, documents the impact of the oil spill on Gulf residents…
“You go out in the water and think everything’s okay, but it’s not. You close your eyes and you don’t hear any seagulls, there’s no fish jumping.”
“I’ve been in the bayou my whole life, and I ain’t ever seen so much dead stuff as I have the past six months.”
“They smiled and they looked at us and said we’re going to take care of you, we’re going to pay all legitimate claims. That was their mantra back in those days…I sent them pages of every cancellation, every date and every name, what each trip was worth and they sent me twelve percent of its value. Don’t tell me you’re going to make me whole and then send me twelve percent.”
“This is serious, they have brought destruction, they have brought pain on all of us.”
“We can’t go somewhere else. We’re stuck, we’re stuck in limbo.”
“It’s not just about industry, I grew up here, all my friends are here, everybody here knows everyone. If we go somewhere else, we’ll know no one. It’s a whole social shock, it’s not just financial. People don’t get that part of it.”
“What bothers me the most is the distinct possibility we will cease to be.”
“Time for everybody to stand up and fight for our land.”
“We can carry this message to the rest of the nation, they have a vested interest in seeing south Louisiana continue to be. It’s morally the right thing to do, politically I think it’s the right thing to do and environmentally, I know it’s the right thing to do.”
In a great article about the GCCF, Riki Ott attacks both Feinberg’s recent declaration that he’s received no health related claims, and also how being the scientist he is, hasn’t seen any scientific evidence of the link between BP and Nalco’s chemicals and Gulf Coast sickness:
“Recently Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer overseeing the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility to “make it right” for people harmed by the British Petroleum oil blowout disaster, told a Louisiana House and Senate committee that he had not seen any claims, or any scientific evidence, linking BP’s oil and dispersant release to chemical illnesses. Feinberg also stated that chemical illnesses take years to show up — conveniently well after his tenure with the compensation fund.
Instead of tossing the media a juicy bone, Feinberg tossed a red herring. He is wrong at worst, or intentionally misleading at best, on all points.
The GCCF process makes it difficult for people to be compensated for medical claims or even raise illness claims, while making it easy to release claims and rights to future medical care and benefits for chemical illnesses or other medically-proven illness related to the BP blowout and disaster response…”
Most everybody’s aware by now there were an abnormal amount of dead dolphin calves washing ashore this year, as well as a much larger than usual number of turtles dying, and there is of course the red snapper, with the NOAA recommending if fishermen catch the fish, or any other kinds of fish with lesions, fin rot or other assorted maladies they not touch them with bare hands and throw them overboard, all while they continue to maintain the seafood is safe to eat. But, with all these strange events, it would seem to make sense that these occurrences, when placed side by side could be readily explained by a certain oil spill, and a certain dumping of dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico to combat said oil spill…but if you buy that explanation, you’d be wrong.
Dolphins? Probably an algae bloom.
Turtles? Damned shrimpers trawling.
Red Snapper? Well, bacteria obviously.
Okay, then how about the sand dollars and starfish washing ashore along Florida beaches?
From the Pensacola News Journal:
“At first glance, it looks like a coin machine exploded on the shoreline. Thousands of sand dollars cover the beach from the Fort Pickens gate area to at least a mile west. And they’re also directly across Santa Rosa Sound from that area, on the south shore of Gulf Breeze.
The nickel- and quarter-sized sand dollars are all dead. They’re not white; rather, they’re tinged green like a coin left in water. The mass die-off is raising concerns about what killed or is killing the sand dollars and hundreds of sea stars mixed in with them.”
And then we get to the quotes from the locals, a type of quote that those following the events of the Gulf are becoming far too familiar with, uncomfortably so:
“This is not a normal thing,” Mary Lynn White 53, said. “I’ve lived in Gulf Breeze all my life. I grew up on the water, and I always take notice of changes. Something is killing them. I’d definitely say it is related to the oil spill.”
Or this one:
“I had a bait net, and I was able to scoop up the net full of them over and over and over,” said Berta Hurston, 56, of Gulf Breeze. “I’ve never seen anything like this. And I grew up in the area and I live on the water. It’s really disturbing to me.”
I seem to remember many similar statements made about the amount of dead dolphins, (never seen it like this before) turtles (no, not like this) and the condition of some of the fish being caught in the Gulf (been here thirty years and no, never), not to mention the woeful beginning to the brown shrimp season where the shrimp were more scarce than usual and undersized, leading some shrimpers to call for an early end to the season as it might do more harm than good, and the docks aren’t buying them anyway.
In each and every one of these situations, there is an alternative culprit besides the oil spill that can be named…
But this many deaths across this many species, not to mention the fish kills occurring earlier in the year…could reasonable lead a person to believe one of two things…
Either the oil spill is the culprit, BP’s gotta pay and Feinberg needs to revise his estimation that all will be well in the Gulf by 2012 (good luck proving that in court), or…the Gulf of Mexico is in a real lot of trouble.
Neither option is appealing…but my money’s on British Petroleum being at fault.
Call it a hunch, a hunch constructed of several coincidences, with unfortunately more expected to come.
Kenneth Feinberg, neutral administrator of the GCCF, told a joint state House and Senate committee reviewing the claims process he hasn’t seen any scientific linkage of cleanup measures, like chemical dispersants, and health problems, “When it comes to cleanup and the respiratory claims, I think right now the medicine and science are lacking. I haven’t seen it in the claims,” Feinberg said.
Sen A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, then asked how people might be compensated if the symptoms show up in later years?
Feinberg responded that after his office closes in August of 2013, the only current option would be for a person to file a lawsuit.
Okay, three things about this:
It would seem we are far past the point of taking Feinberg’s word on anything. He refuses to open up the claims process to anyone, despite repeated requests by political figures across four states, so how are we to know for ourselves that Feinberg is receiving no information about health effects, especially considering when all is said and done, Feinberg, as he has previously stated, will be turning all claims materials over to British Petroleum.
Think BP might turn around and finally let somebody take a look at the claims data in its entirety?
No, me neither.
So again, transparency in the process continues to be a problem, something Feinberg has repeatedly said he would address, and continually does not.
If symptoms show up in later years, as symptoms are likely to, Feinberg suggests the only remedy available will be for people to file a lawsuit.
Quick payments and final payments require the claimant to waive their right to sue BP and a 100 other companies so who exactly are they supposed to sue? And interim payments, which don’t require any waiver, are simply not being paid…so down the road, please tell us Ken, who should sick people sue? You? Your law firm?
Feinberg rode into the Gulf on a white horse claiming to be the solution to everyone’s problems…and when it comes to the potential for adverse health effects, this is one more occasion where he has done nothing but let the people of the Gulf Coast down. In August of 2013, he’ll be gone…and if people continue to get sicker…they will be left with no resort. Right now, today…Feinberg is in a position to do something about this potential problem…but like he’s shown time and time again…the claims process was never about Gulf Coast residents, it’s been about British Petroleum…and the money he can save…period.
Hey, I thought this whole oil spill deal was all kinda, you know…over.
At least that’s the impression I got watching all them there sparkly British Petroleum commercials, but man, over the past two days, the news has been flying pretty serious again in the Gulf, and between you, me, the courts and the water…I think this has just begun…Maybe I just got distracted by the hockey playoffs…
What? What do you want? I never said I wasn’t from the north…
Archbishop Gregory Aymond got on bended knees and put his arms around two women, listened to the damage BP and the GCCF have wrought and did his best to console them. The women had come to Catholic Charities in Violet for counseling and help with their spill damage claims.
Turns out one of the women, Lois Neville of Violet is yet another one of those people who Ken Feinberg, BP paid administrator of the GCCF and $20 billion escrow fund is saying…well, golly gosh gee, must have slipped through the cracks…hey, mistakes get made, do you know how many claims we’ve received, we’re working as fast as we can…etc…ad nauseum.
Funny thing though, BP was helping her financially, but all payments stopped when Feinberg took over…and she filed for her final settlement, and well past the 90 day time limit Feinberg gave himself to present final offers, she is still waiting…
In her words from David Hammer’s article in the Times-Picayune:
“I’m barely making ends meet with my savings and rental income, and I’m depressed, I’m stressed out,” Neville said. “I get very angry. I hate to even watch the news because there are other people in a worse predicament than me.”
Depressed and stressed out…like thousands of others, yet BP has closed the coffers on funding for mental health in the Gulf Coast…maybe when they said, making things right…they meant everything but the mind.
And hey, why might Ms. Neville still be waiting for her final claim?
It’s been a year since the oil spilled.
Well, on the GCCF front…Feinberg will tell any reporter who listens how he has paid out $3.9 billion dollars of that escrow fund…and apparently, he is quite proud of this fact…lord knows why…after all that means…he hasn’t paid out $16 billion dollars…and of that 3.9, it’s mostly quick payments…very few final offers, and even fewer interim payments…so what gives? Oh…right, right: mistakes get made, do you know how many claims we’ve received and we’re working as fast as we can…got it. Um, bullshit? Not to mention, how convenient was it for Feinberg, the day before the anniversary, the day before the press was to descend all over the Gulf Coast, to suddenly issue the largest final offer to date to Omega Protein Corp, $44.8 million dollars total. I’m sure the timing of this was coincidental, of course…Feinberg couldn’t possibly be such a cynical asshole to present this offer as some sort of distraction to the press, you know, so the coverage might be a bit more balanced as the press goes out to find the countless Lois Neville’s across the Gulf Coast, the ones seeking counseling because they are struggling not to lose everything, again, a year later…
And speaking of unhappy people in the Gulf…well, let the lawsuits begin, and rightfully so…
70,000 people have filed suit in the Gulf in a maritime law proceeding brought by rig owner Transocean, using a form that also expanded the suit to include British Petroleum. This would be on top of the 350 other suits, representing multiple parties already filed. No word on how many of these people are of the 400,000 that Feinberg and the GCCF have not paid yet, or plan not to pay, but Stephen Herman, co-lead attorney for the plaintiffs said, “I think it certainly validates the litigation effort. I also think that it confirms the sentiment out there that Feinberg and the GCCF haven’t really done a great job of giving people what they thought they were entitled to.”
Not to be outdone, British Petroleum filed a suit of their own, going after Cameron International, the company that made the blowout preventer that wouldn’t close. BP would like a court to rule against the company, declaring the device caused or contributed to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon. Such a ruling would help BP fight against a designation of being “grossly negligent” which if so designated would dramatically raise the amount of fines British Petroleum will have to pay under the Oil Pollution Act.
Perhaps Feinberg knows a judge, to help out his boss, maybe call in some favors perhaps? It’s been a while since he got a raise, and remember the reason the GCCF keeps screwing people? Right, it’s because they’re overworked…not because the GCCF is trying to coerce people into claims attached to a clause where they sign away their rights to sue BP, and not because Feinberg is trying to save BP money, and certainly not because Feinberg is just trying to keep people out of court…cause, that worked out real well…(see above).
Okay…well, at least…all the oil is gone. And that’s important because according to Feinberg’s methodology, all that oil has to be outta there by 2013. If not, if the Gulf isn’t back to normal by then, the entire pay-scale he is using to determine damages for claimants will be off, and not in the claimants favor…so, hey…at least BP and the Coast Guard, they got that one right…oh, what?
“Mike Robichaux is a local doctor who has seen up to 60 patients in recent weeks with a mysterious sickness that some attribute to BP’s oil spill. Dr. Robichaux has been making house calls because many of the “stoic” workers don’t want others to know that they are sick. Yet, Dr. Robichaux tells the AFP, “Ninety percent of them are getting worse… Nobody has a clue as to what it is.”
Reuters reports that the U.S. National Institutes of Health has launched a ten-year study on the health of 55,000 oil spill clean-up workers and volunteers. Perhaps it will take ten years to get an answer for Dr. Robichaux.
Not everyone blames the oil spill for the health problems plaguing Gulf cleanup workers. Namely, BP does not blame the BP oil spill for the health problems plaguing Gulf cleanup workers. In a BP comment to the AFP, the company wrote, “Illness and injury reports were tracked and documented during the response, and the medical data indicate they did not differ appreciably from what would be expected among a workforce of this size under normal circumstances.”
As for compensating sick workers, this would fall under state law and “must be supported by acceptable medical evidence.” Are the 415 Louisianans suffering from respiratory tract infections, nausea, and headaches evidence enough?”
Oh, and as mentioned before…it ain’t just the physical body having problems…a study funded by the National Science Foundation has found that mental health difficulties are likely to linger on the Gulf Coast for the following decade. According to the study, two factors that could cause stresses to persist are delays in compensation for spill damages by the claims process, and possible slow recovery of fishing resources and the fishing industry.
Feinberg, Dudley…your ears burning?
Okay…my bad on all this everybody…I promise to stop watching so much hockey. It really would appear this thing is far from over…that few are doing well in the Gulf at all
In fact…it would appear the only people really doing well these days are British Petroleum…once again paying stock dividends and issuing bonuses to the elite within its company, and Ken Feinberg,who’s sitting on a helluva nice raise from his British Petroleum puppet masters. Yeah, Ken may be taking a lot of criticism these days, but from everything I read, it doesn’t appear to be affecting his psyche at all, in fact he refers to himself as “Bloodied, but unbowed.” And that’s a good thing too, because whereas some of you lightweights out there might want your guy in charge of helping hundreds of thousands of people recover from this catastraphuk to brag about such things as fairness, compassion, generosity and empathy….I like my arbitrator of a compensation fund to talk like he’s trying out for the WWE, you know, to be a bad-ass who don’t take no crap from some fishing type guys and business people who’ve never been to New York.
Nope…not going well at all:
Cleanup workers are getting sick, depression is running rampant and suicides are up across the Gulf Coast. There’s still oil out there while BP continues to scale back cleanup. BP is reneging on financial promises to help with the oyster beds while helping their stockbrokers and executives to more money. The health of the Gulf continues to be debated. Dolphins are dying. Fish have sores. There are dead zones on the Gulf seafloor. Allegations exist that BP is trying to taint the science by influencing the research. A year after the Deepwater Horizon blew up, no laws have been passed by Congress to help ensure it doesn’t happen again while experts maintain it very well could happen again. The NOAA, EPA and FDA all claim the seafood from the Gulf is safe to eat, and they finally opened the last fishing area but the country isn’t buying it: what the government says, or the seafood – which leaves the industry far from recovered. Too many people are waiting for Feinberg to do his fucking job…homes are being lost, jobs haven’t come back and businesses continue to go bankrupt.
And the President?
Well, he said some words and stuff, but ah…who cares, or believes that guy anymore…
Before the spill he had a lucrative business, his health and the health of his family, a home, cars…but now, he’s lost his house, his vehicles and he and his family are staying at a relative’s. He’s also sick, and so are his daughters who came to swim in the waters around Grand Isle, after he was assured by BP and the government that the water was safe…it wasn’t.
Let him tell it to you…and know he is one of many who are suffering the same current fate…without health insurance, and not being taken care of…
British Petroleum and Bob Dudley, Ken Feinberg and the GCCF…things have not been made whole, not in the least and the two of you and your companies/organizations are directly responsible…
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.
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.