The final cap was placed on the Macondo Well today, the well that gushed over 205 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico due to BP’s incompetency and greed (sure, there’s plenty of blame to go around – MMS, Transocean, etc., but let’s keep it simple). The well has been capped with a memorial featuring an 11 point star to represent the 11 dead men working on the rig at the time of the explosion April 20th.
I’m trying to wrap my head around the point of an underwater memorial. Should the widows and children SCUBA dive down to lay flowers and Mardi Gras beads on the memorial? It seems a perfect metaphor for all the truths BP has buried.
As everyone from BP to the government assures us that the oil is “gone,” locals continue to report oil onshore and in the water everyday. Even areas that were once clean are now reporting oil washing in. This can easily be contributed to the near-abandonment of cleaning up the spill. The oil spill response command is still reporting 93 miles of “moderate to heavy oil” and several teams of scientists have reported that as much as 80% of the oil continues to foul our nation’s waters and beaches.
How are BP and the government getting away with it? Well, first of all, they lie. Local fishermen insist they’ve spotted oil and government scientists say it’s algae. Independent scientists find more and more plumes and government scientists say they can only find “trace amounts” of underwater oil. 7,000 animals have been found dead including an island covered in dead birds, a whale and hundreds of sea turtles, but the government says they need proof of the cause of death. The 7,000 carcasses are only a minute representation of the overall massacre but the government calls every massive fish kill (millions of fish dying all at once until waterways look like paved roads) and coral kill a natural event. 7 miles of coral next to the well are coated in a brown substance. 90% of the large coral was damaged or dead.
Let’s leave the heated topic of dead workers and dead animals and move to easier things to swallow – anchors. Hundreds and hundreds of anchors used to hold boom have been left on the sea floor in Jefferson Parish. BP cut the ropes and left the anchors. BP currently has no plan to remove the anchors, even those in shallow water that could easily rip out boat bottoms or injure people. Apparently, their plan is to leave the anchors and handle accidents as they arise. Sound familiar? And why do this when lawsuits can be so costly? Because they have no intention of “making us whole” so it’s cheaper to let chips fall where they may, then put working folks through the hell of filing claims over and over (and over and over) until, broke and exhausted, they give up and rebuild on their own. But I digress.
The owner of one of the companies that supplied the anchors disputes BP’s claim that the anchors will lie flat and cause no problems. He said the anchors sit 3 feet tall on a hard surface and though they are designed to sink and/or lay down, there’s no way of knowing which ones are still sticking straight up in shallow water.
Even the boats used in the clean-up effort are covered in BP’s apathy. Less than 200 “vessels of opportunity” are still doing any cleaning while 1,200 boats previously used are waiting to be cleaned.
Meantime, BP posted a $1.79 BILLION profit. They had been raking in 3 to 4 times as much so I guess this has been a really rough 1/2 year for them. They must really be having trouble making ends meet with only $1.79 BILLION in profits.
Maybe I sound bitter, heck – maybe I even am bitter, but if I dumped gallons of oil onto your home, your food, your yard, your job – would you care what it did to me to make it up to you?
I’m not a person who makes a living as a 6th generation oysterman, I’m just another seafood lover who hates injustice and corporate greed. But I can try to walk a mile in the shoes of the Native American tribe who, afraid of contamination and used to living off the water and land, now has no food. I can try to picture being someone who’s never had any job but shrimping and now has to learn new skills and try to find a job in a country with nearly 10% unemployment in an area where everyone I know is also looking for work. I know what it feels like to have your expenses increase at exactly the moment the money stops coming in. What has happened to our coastal people is as awful as the fish and coral slowly suffocating in oil.
I believe nothing “government scientists” say anymore after the 90%-of-the-oil-is-gone lunacy. I believe nothing the Coast Guard says anymore since they had the information that the gusher was potentially huge (as I blogged on April 30th) and went along with the 1,000 barrels a day crap. Don’t even get me started on BP. And I don’t believe our seafood is uncontaminated. They’ve been using a “sniff test” to check seafood safety along with minimal testing. But, even in areas where no oil could be seen or smelled, shellfish have been found with high levels of PAH (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon), a carcinogen, that had the “fingerprint” of the BP gusher. As always, I’m still eating the seafood because I didn’t move to New Orleans to eat pizza, but if I had children or health problems, I think I’d have no choice but to play safe over sorry.
As Thanksgiving creeps nearer and the need for charitable food donations in this region has remained steady at 25% over normal, I’m not fighting BP or my government, I’m fighting hunger. I continue to be impressed with Second Harvest’s ability to get food into the hands of those who need it most with minimal overhead. Every dollar donated feeds a family of 4 a meal. For more info about Second Harvest and how you can help: