Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
WWL-TV Eyewitness News
FORT JACKSON -- Nearly 700 oil-covered birds have come through the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Fort Jackson.
Workers there said about 80 percent of them are surviving. But they're not all adults. The center has a number of baby pelicans separated from their parents.
Veterinary intern Dr. Leslie Pence is used to treating birds at the West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic in Metairie. But lately, she has a weekend gig cleaning oil-covered pelicans at Fort Jackson.
“I was there when they started getting some of the babies, the little hatchlings in, probably ten or so,” Pence said.
Now workers are caring for 75 baby pelicans that are kept in a pen outside.
“They are cute. They sound like little pterodactyls,” Pence said.
“They're the more aggressive, everybody that's been bitten has been bitten by a baby. They think they're friendly and they snap you right in the face,” said director of the Wildlife Rehab Center, Jay Holcomb.
The baby pelicans are the orphans of the oil spill, separated from their parents, removed from the only islands they've ever known.
But this is not the first time the workers at Fort Jackson have cleaned oil off Louisiana birds.
In 2005, two months before Katrina, oil spilled into Breton Sound.
“During a storm, all the adults leave, and the babies stay. So, they got covered in oil. We picked up a thousand birds, and we only released 250 of those because they were burned from the oil, from the sun,” Holcomb said about the event that taught him how to care for the pelicans.
So far, the center has treated and released 250 birds in Texas; 72 more were scheduled for release in Georgia today.
The question now is what to do with the babies.
In '05, workers raised the babies back on the islands that were cleaned of oil, but in this case, the oil is still gushing.
According to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, BP's contractor that runs the site is still trying to find an extended rehab facility for them.
“The big ones are getting really big and in a few weeks, they'll start test-flying. So, we want them out before then. So, we're pushing the agencies to go faster and get this plan going,” Holcomb said.
And much like saving them, it's a race against time, before there's too much human contact and they can't survive back in the wild on their own.
Holcomb said experts used the same technique to bring back the brown pelican population in Louisiana.
They fed them in their natural habitat until they could fly and kept them near adult pelicans so they can see how to catch fish on their own.
Monday, June 28, 2010
10. Catch Osama
9. Contaminate waters around a country like North Korea
8. Reveal secret behind his soft and lustrous curly hair
7. Apologize on The Golf Channel
6. Shoot new BP commercial where he is viciously pecked by angry pelicans
5. Join Team Coco
4. Get a job at Poland Spring; accidentally dump a billion gallons of water into the gulf
3. Improve his image, are you kidding? He's doing great!
2. Hang out at BP station, let customers inflate his butt with air hose
1. Dial it back from "arrogant bastard" to "smug
Chefs from around the country flocked to the barrier island of Grand Isle, Louisiana, for Chefs Ashore, a two-day summit aimed at educating the greater culinary community about the fishing industry and the state of Gulf seafood. After surveying the damage to Grand Isle first hand, each chef had an opportunity to talk about his or her connection to Gulf seafood and how the oil spill has affected his or her restaurant. Chef Rick Tramonto, a Chicago restaurateur, voiced his concerns and goals in the same breath, saying: “[I want] to stay educated about the seafood down there so I can explain the situation properly. I want chefs to come see what’s going on so they have the knowledge they need to speak and react intelligently. So they won’t take it off of their menu.”
In the midst of much uncertainty over the safety of the seafood and its availability, it is important that chefs understand the current situation in order to make informed sourcing decisions and to address concerns expressed by their customer base. The question-and-answer segment at Chef’s Ashore was just the beginning – it was followed by a “Seafood Jam” session and the creation of two improvisational paintings by artist Michael Israel. Proceeds from the paintings benefit Friends of the Fisherman, a fund established by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to benefit fisherman who have been taken out of commission as a result of the oil spill.
For more information go here.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
"Tonight, the United States Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District officially shut down the state’s dredging operation to protect coastal Louisiana from the ongoing impact of millions of gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf from the BP oil spill.
After conference calls and meetings throughout the day, reports from the Corps that they had not shut down our efforts, and a top federal official said he was not halting our dredging operation, we have now been notified that our efforts to help prevent the oil from hitting our coast are officially stopped. Interestingly, the Corps' press release tonight said this was done in ‘close coordination’ with the state, while we have actually been pleading with them to let our dredging operations continue.
This decison was made only hours after BP reported that they had to remove the containment cap and we, once again, have an estimated 60,000 barrels of oil per day to destory our fisheries, birds, wetlands and coastal communities -- mind-boggling.
Indeed, the Corps’ own permit indicates that we are currently operating within the allowed dredge area. Our operations on the Northern Chandeluers have all been within our approved permitted area. We simply asked to continue dredging operations until we could ensure a seamless transition to the next sand borrow site. Reports today show that oil will hit our coast again next week and now we will lose thousands of feet of sand berm that we could have built up in that time to protect our marshes and our coast. Because of this fact, we made it clear to the Corps that their ‘Option 1’ was never an option for the state.
All of the sudden, the Department of the Interior claims we were dredging outside of the permitted area, yet they agreed to this spot for seven to 10 days. If we were dredging outside the confines of the original permit – which we were not, the agencies would have had issued a new permit for dredging outside of the initial permit. A new permit was not issued because it was not needed. We were dredging within the permitted area.
In fact, the Shaw Group project manager for the sand berms is a former top official within the Corps of Engineers. There are few folks in this world that are more familiar with the Corps' regulatory procedures. To suggest that the project manager would dredge outside of a permitted area is absurd.
The Corps’s statement also says they have concerns about the ‘additional erosion issues and possible deterioration of the Chandeluer Islands.’ While I certainly appreciate the Corps’ and USFWS's new-found love for the Chandeleur Islands, if they were actually interested in preventing further erosion in this area surely they would have invested even one dollar from their budgets for coastal restoration projects in the many years they have owned and managed this area -- as they have done for other refuges and recreational areas.
Communities used to live on these islands, today they are virtually gone. Additionally, the Department of the Interior’s continued insistence that this dredge area is a bird rookery makes it clear that they are confused about what it is that they are protecting – and perhaps have never been to the Chandeluers at all. There isn't a place for a bird to land for over a mile away.
Additionally, one of the Department of the Interior's top political appointees told the Associated Press that we were dredging ‘in between islands.’ Mr. Strickland should probably consult a current map, because there is there is nothing north of where we were dredging on the Chandeluer Island chain. It is not ‘in between’ anything. Perhaps if the federal government had taken any interest in protecting the coast in this area there would truly be places for birds to land and people to fish today".
(AP) – 2 hours ago
A cap was back in place on BP's broken oil well after a deep-sea blunder forced crews to temporarily remove what has been the most effective method so far for containing some of the massive Gulf of Mexico spill. Engineers using remote-controlled submarines repositioned the cap late Wednesday after it had been off for much of the day. It had captured 700,000 gallons of oil in 24 hours before one of the robots bumped into it late in the morning. Bob Dudley, BP's new point man for the oil response, said crews had done the right thing to remove the cap because fluid seemed to be leaking and could have been a safety hazard.
While the cap was off, clouds of black oil gushed unchecked again at up to 104,000 gallons per hour, though a specialized ship at the surface managed to suck up and incinerate 438,000 gallons. The oil-burning ship is part of an armada floating at the site of the rogue well some 50 miles off the Louisiana coast and the scene below the surface is no less crowded. At least a dozen robotic submarines dangle from ships at the surface on mile-long cables called "umbilicals," with most of the undersea work taking place within a few hundred yards of the busted well.
In Florida, thick pools of oil washed up along miles of national park and Pensacola Beach shoreline Wednesday, as health advisories against swimming and fishing in the once-pristine waters were extended for 33 miles east from the Alabama line. "It's pretty ugly, there's no question about it," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said. The oil reeked as it baked in the afternoon heat on a beach that looked as if it had been paved with a 6-foot-wide ribbon of asphalt. Park ranger Bobbie Visnovske said a family found an oily young dolphin beached in the sand in the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Wednesday. Wildlife officers carried it into shallow water to revive it. They later transported it to a rehabilitation center in Panama City, about 100 miles to the east.
The Obama administration seeks to resurrect a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. The Justice Department filed court papers asking U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to delay his ruling overturning the order to suspend drilling on 33 wells and stop approval of any new deepwater permits. Several companies, including Shell and Marathon Oil, said they would await the outcome of any appeals before they resume drilling. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would issue a new order within the next few days. He said it may allow drilling in areas where reserves and risks are known and is likely to include criteria for when the ban would be lifted.
The man who inherited the Gulf oil spill response from BP's embattled CEO said Wednesday that Americans have been too quick to blame his company for the environmental disaster now in its third month. "I'm somewhat concerned there is a bit of a rush to justice going on around the investigation and facts," BP PLC managing director Bob Dudley said after touring a New Orleans wildlife conservation center where oil is cleaned from sea turtles. The Mississippi native said BP has been unusually open about making its internal investigation public and shared information that no other company would.
Britain, home of BP headquarters, said deep-sea exploration will continue in North Sea oil fields off Scotland despite safety concerns raised by the Gulf spill, the country's energy minister said Thursday. Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told an energy conference in London that regulation is strong enough "to manage the risk of deep-water drilling." Britain announced this month it was doubling the number of inspections carried out at North Sea oil rigs following the Gulf disaster.
The current worst-case estimate of what's spewing into the Gulf is about 2.5 million gallons a day. Anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons have spilled since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and blew out the well 5,000 feet underwater. BP PLC was leasing the rig from owner Transocean Ltd.
A leaky truck filled with oil-stained sand and absorbent boom soaked in crude pulls away from the beach, leaving tar balls in a public parking lot and a messy trail of sand and water on the main beach road. A few miles away, brown liquid drips out of a disposal bin filled with polluted sand. BP PLC's work to clean up the mess from the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history already has generated more than 1,300 tons of solid waste, and companies it hired to dispose of the material say debris is being handled professionally and carefully. A spot check of several container sites by The Associated Press, however, found that's not always the case.
More than five dozen brown pelicans rehabilitated from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico take flight in Texas. The 62 pelicans arrived on Coast Guard cargo planes Wednesday and were taken to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge about 175 miles south of Houston. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups released the pelicans and one northern gannet. Wednesday's release was the largest to date since the offshore oil rig exploded April 20.
A federal report confirms what independent scientists have been saying for weeks about the Gulf oil spill: Undersea oil plumes extend for miles from the ruptured well. The report may help measure the effectiveness of spreading chemicals to break up the oil. Government researchers released a summary Wednesday of water sampling conducted last month near the undersea gusher. It describes a cloud of oil starting around 3,300 feet deep up to 4,600 feet deep and stretching up to 6 miles from the well. Levels of oil and gas within the cloud are significantly higher than concentrations closer to the surface. The Environmental Protection Agency says there's been no significant harm to sea life, but marine scientist Vernon Asper of the University of Southern Mississippi says the levels are enough to kill fish.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says two contract workers helping with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup have died. Neither death appears to have a direct connection to the spill. Allen said Wednesday in Washington that one man was killed by what investigators later called a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Allen said the other worker's death involved swimming. He would not provide more details.
A new exhibit at an aquarium in Iowa had intended to showcase the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, it will be void of life to underline the environmental impact of a massive oil spill in the ocean basin. The 40,000-gallon aquarium at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa, was supposed to have been teeming with sharks, rays and other fish. Two smaller tanks were to show a seagrass bed and coral reef. Instead, says executive director Jerry Enzler, the main tank will hold water and artificial coral, with window stickers that look like oil.
The House has approved legislation that would give subpoena power to the presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Rep. Lois Capps, a California Democrat, said that Americans want answers from those responsible for the spill, and subpoena power will ensure "no stone goes unturned." The vote Wednesday was 420-1, with Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas casting the only no vote. President Barack Obama has appointed the seven-member commission to investigate the spill.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday subpoenaed BP claims documents, after its chairman said the company has not complied with requests to provide information on its payments. The committee's voice vote showed bipartisan agreement for Chairman John Conyers' efforts to release claims information to the public. The committee also voted, 16-11, to approve a bill eliminating limits on the amount of money that vessel owners had to pay for deaths and injuries. The bill would let family members collect payments for non-monetary damages such as pain and suffering. Introduced by Conyers, D-Mich., the bill was sent to the full House, where it will be considered along with other legislation resulting from the oil spill.
In need of political momentum, Democrats are exploiting Republican Rep. Joe Barton's startling apology to BP for its treatment by the Obama administration, launching a steady, low-budget campaign of fundraising appeals, a pair of television commercials and Web ads. Little more than four months before midterm elections, party officials appear to be testing ways to maximize the gain from a comment that ricocheted across the Capitol at a furious pace last week, and that Republicans deemed significant enough to force Barton to recant.
To a nation frustrated by the Gulf oil spill, BP's attempts at damage control have sometimes been infuriatingly vague. But from a legal standpoint, that's exactly the point. With the company facing more than 200 civil lawsuits and the specter of a Justice Department investigation, saying the wrong thing could expose BP to millions of dollars in damages or even criminal charges for its executives. Inside the company, experts believe, there is a natural tension between public relations people who want BP to project a positive image and lawyers who don't want to be boxed into a corner. It's a balancing act with billions of dollars — perhaps even BP's survival — at stake.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is urging the White House to hold a summit with East Coast governors and local officials to ensure they are prepared if oil from the Gulf spill makes its way up the Atlantic coastline. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, made the request in a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Computer models show that the oil could enter the Gulf's loop current, go around the tip of Florida and up the coast.
The person responsible for this snafu is a Jane Lyder, assistant deputy secretary for the Department of Interior. Jane seems like your typical government pencil pusher. I looked her up in Linked In and found that she has been in the Department of Interior for 33 years.
I’m sorry, but I fail to understand her reasoning about drawing sand from a “ less endangered area”. Jane: EVERYTHING is endangered right now!!! Without the berms, EVERYTHING will die. Apparently, Jane sent out an email to several people to see if she could get some volunteers to help expedite the pipe installation. Here is the email:
From: Lyder, Jane
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 4:41 PM
To: Lee, Alvin B COL MVN; Garret Graves; Kyle Graham; charlie hess; Serio, Pete J MVN; Accardo, Christopher J MVN; Colletti, Jerry A MVN; Ulm, Michelle S MVN; Mayer, Martin S MVN
Cc: Robert Routon; steve mathies; Jeff Jenkins; George bevan; Mark Zimmerman; ancil taylor; Mike Flores; Harris, James
Subject: Question about manpower
I’ve been asked if we could get more people out there to help lay the pipe would it go faster. It was suggested that we should help the State find volunteers to make a 5-7 or 9-10 day job a much shorter job. Is that feasible at all? We would be willing to contact folks in Houma & round up volunteers if it would help at all.
And here is Billy Nungesser’s response on Anderson Cooper last night:
And to give you the kind of person we're dealing with, she sent an e-mail out today that said, could we possibly move volunteers to shorten that time frame?
Obviously, this lady has never -- doesn't know what a dredge is, doesn't know what a barrier island is. It's a 36-inch steel pipe, lady. You don't move it with volunteers.
And the pelicans she's worried about -- Anderson, you saw that small grass area behind us. This berm by Friday would have protected that small, one of the last breeding grounds out there left.
But this -- with this project being shut down, if that oil comes to the Chandeleurs by Friday, like projected, those pelicans, those breeding grounds will be destroyed because she single-handedly stopped this project.
And I want to put her on notice...
Here are some statements by Nungesser sent to BayouBuzz.com (and others) by Nungesser's press office
Nungesser Dredge Statement
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
“Every minute we waste makes us more and more vulnerable to the oil attacking the marsh and the breeding grounds for the pelicans. It’s a shame that the bureaucrats once again fight us instead of helping us in this war against the oil,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
Below is an email from Jane Lyder of the Department of the Interior. She’s the one holding up the dredging. This is one piece of correspondence in a chain with the State of Louisiana, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DOI, and others.
(2nd Nungesser statement from June 23)
“You don’t move sediment pumping pipe with volunteers. This is the lady that Thad Allen and President Obama are allowing hold up dredging to save our wetlands—God help us. What planet is this lady from? In the conference today Lyder was worried about the pelican nesting grounds. Obviously, she hasn’t been out there to see the birds dying, covered in oil, just like the other people who make ridiculous comments. Maybe she should go sailing on a yacht in England with Tony Hayward, it would be a great place to send her on vacation. I’ll pay her way,” said President Nungesser.
It’s been reported that two people who were working for BP on cleanup of the oil spill have died. One of the people died in a “swimming incident” (still trying to dig up info on that) and the other took his own life. Here’s the story on the second person:
From the latimes (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/06/gulf-oil-spill-boat-captain-despondent-over-spill-commits-suicide.html)
William Allen Kruse, 55, a charter boat captain recently hired by BP as a vessel of opportunity out of Gulf Shores, Ala., died Wednesday morning before 7:30 a.m. of a gunshot to the head, likely self-inflicted, authorities said.
"He had been quite despondent about the oil crisis," said Stan Vinson, coroner for Baldwin County, which includes Gulf Shores.
Kruse, who lived with his family in nearby Foley, Ala., reported to work Wednesday morning as usual at the Gulf Shores Marina on Fort Morgan Road in Gulf Shores, Vinson said. He met up with his two deckhands at his boat, The Rookie. One of the deckhands later told Vinson that Kruse seemed his usual self, sending them to fetch ice while he pulled the boat around to the gas pumps.
As the deckhands walked off to get ice, they heard what sounded like a firecracker, Vinson said. They turned around but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. So they proceeded to gather the ice and wait for Kruse at the pumps. "He never showed," Vinson said.
After waiting a while, the deckhands returned to the boat, which was moored where they had left it, Vinson said. They went aboard and found Kruse at the captain's bridge above the wheelhouse, Vinson said. He had been shot in the head. A Glock handgun was later recovered from the scene, and investigators do not suspect foul play, Vinson said.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The post also has links to pictures of her trip. Enjoy.
Here's a link to another post by Liprap with links to the different websites helping to save the birds so you can make a donation.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Rescue workers, speaking anonymously due to fears that public complaints would cause further problems, claimed that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been preventing them from using proven techniques to capture oiled birds, restricting the hours spent in the field, and performing most search and collection in non-oiled areas.
One member of the response team maintained that USFWS threatened to fire International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) for "stepping out of line", which includedquestioning protocols, strategies, daily plans, taking photos, [and] talking to press.
"I feel like calling Obama," said another staff member who felt at a loss for a remedy.
With a great frustration setting in, this long-running, slow-motion disaster seemed to be taking a toll on the responders. "We've had to sit back and observe oiled birds not being captured for a month".
Here's a link to the entire post.
I certainly hope that everyone responsible for strong arming the press and rescue volunteers, everyone responsible for hiding the truth from the public will be known for the scumbuckets they really are
The Federal Judge Martin Feldman has ruled AGAINST the White House on the drilling moratorium in the Gulf. Judge Feldman said the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reason for the moratorium. Additionally, he said because one rig failed does not mean all rigs pose imminent danger.
White House spokeman Robert Gibbs says the government will immediately appeal the ruling to the 5th
U.S. Court of Appeals.
From The Huntsville Examiner dot com:
The Larry King Live Gulf Telethon raised 1.3 million dollars in 2 hours. And it did something every more important - it got MILLIONS of Americans talking about this environmental issue in the Gulf states. Whether donating money, thinking it was ridiculous or just talking to a neighbor about the telethon- the idea that we, as a nation, started mobilizing began at the telethon last night.
Crews cleaning up the oil (from Houston) in one Louisiana parish have trampled the nests and eggs of birds including the brown pelican, which came off the endangered species list last year, the head of the parish said Wednesday.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said the parish doesn’t want to turn away contractors, but he called for more care when crews work in the sensitive wetlands.
He said officials recently found broken eggs and crushed chicks on Queen Bess Island, near Grand Isle.
Here’s a link for Queen Bess Island: http://www.cajunimages.com/Pages/Places%20to%20Visit.htm
Plastic bags containing snare boom were “recklessly placed” around the island without consideration for wildlife.
Nungesser met with the Humane Society of the United States and asked it to work with contractors who are cleaning the birds to come up with a better way to enlist the help of volunteers, the parish said.
“We want to improve our comfort level of knowing someone is out there looking for these birds and other animals — doing all they can to save them,” Nungesser said on the parish website.
“The people BP sent out to clean up oil trampled the nesting grounds of brown pelicans and other birds,” he said. “Pelicans just came off the endangered species list in November of last year. They already have the oil affecting their population during their reproduction time, now we have the so-called clean up crews stomping eggs.
“The lack of urgency and general disregard for Louisiana’s wetlands and wildlife is enough to make you sick,” he said.
Posted: 21 Jun 2010 01:01 PM PDT
It turned out to be much more than just a Father's Day gift from a dozen chefs at New Orleans restaurants. They traveled to Grand Isle's Bridge Side Marina to not only feed local fishermen and their families … lives devastated by the BP oil spill … but also as an act of appreciation for years of hard work "Today is a day of rest for you," Kara Pigeon of Signature Destination Management Company told the crowd. "You are not alone. We are here for you."
Organized by Pigeon, Executive Chef Matt Murphy of the Ritz-Carlton, and Wendy Warren of the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), the event featured Louisiana staples like fried catfish, duck and andouille gumbo, alligator sausage, jambalaya and bread pudding. "I can't plug an oil leak, but I can cook," said Chef Murphy. "I can come and show them that there are other communities out there that care for them."I think this is awesome," said Grand Isle resident Wilson Bourgeois. "These people are awesome. It's nice to know we're thought about like that. It's a lot of people donating a lot of time and effort Bourgeois – a deck hand on a shrimping boat that can't leave the dock – said that seeing his neighbors was a mixed blessing of sorts. "This is the time of year when you don't see many of us unless you're at a shrimp dock. It's a way of life down here that's being effected… Right now we supposed to be fishing so we're all sort of lost. "But on this day, the sense of loss was lightened by a sense of community, shared respect and love among the people of southern Louisiana. The music played, the food was passed around the picnic table, friends and family greeted one another with hugs and handshakes, and if you looked past the military police, assigned to the oil cleanup, feasting on gumbo while leaning against the Community Coffee truck, it looked like any of the fishing rodeos that have made Grand Isle famous
Monday, June 21, 2010
'The people BP sent out to clean up oil trampled the nesting grounds of brown pelicans and other birds.' 'We ought to take him offshore and dunk him 10 feet underwater and pull him up and ask him 'What's that all over your face?' 2>Billy Nungesser, on BP CEO Tony Hayward"
BP rig worker 'told bosses of problem with blowout device'
Source: Belfast Telegraph
Publication date: 2010-06-21
FURTHER pressure was heaped on BP today, when a worker on the Deepwater Horizon rig claimed that he discovered a problem with safety equipment weeks before the explosion.
Tyrone Benton told the BBC's Panorama programme that he identified a fault on a device known as the blowout preventer.
He claimed it was shut down instead of being fixed and a second device was relied on instead.
BP said rig owner Transocean was responsible for operating and maintaining that piece of equipment.
Transocean said it tested the device successfully before the blast. On April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded killing 11 people, the blowout preventer, (BOP), as it is known, failed.
The most critical piece of safety equipment on the rig, the blowout preventers are designed to avert disasters just like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The BOP has giant shears which are designed to cut and seal off the well's main pipe. The control pods are effectively the brains of the blowout preventer and contain both electronics and hydraulics. This is where Mr Benton said the problem was found.
"We saw a leak on the pod, so by seeing the leak we informed the company men," Mr Benton said of the earlier problem he had identified. "They have a control room where they could turn off that pod and turn on the other one, so that they don't have to stop production." Meanwhile, full-page advertisements were still running in America's newspapers touting the steps BP is taking to counter the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and help those affected, but no amount of money spent on public relations has been able to change the only page that really matters for the energy giant: the front one.
And yesterday, just when you thought BP had exhausted every PR gaffe possibility, America's headline writers had another field day at the expense of the hapless chief executive Tony Hayward, after it emerged that he had spent part of the weekend watching his yacht racing in Cowes. "Capt Clueless", blasted the New York Post.
The "BP Bozo", another Post coinage, was there for Saturday's JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race after directors sent him back to London and away from running the spill operations.
Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, attacked Mr Hayward. "That's the height of arrogance," he said. "I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil. He ought to be down here seeing what is really going on, not in a cocoon somewhere."
Barataria teems with wildlife, including alligators, bullfrogs, bald eagles and migratory birds from the Caribbean and South America. There are even Louisiana black bears in the upper basin's hardwood forests.
Before the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, oyster and shrimp boats plowed through these productive bays as fishers snapped up speckled trout and redfish within minutes of casting their lines.
Now it resembles an environmental war zone. Many of the bay's nesting islands for birds are girded by oil containment boom, and crews in white disposable protective suits change out coils of absorbents to soak up the sticky mess.
"The whole place is full of oil," said fishing guide Dave Marino. "This is some of the best fishing in the whole region, and the oil's coming in just wave after wave. It's hard to stomach, it really is."
Local leaders say the environmental damage could have been prevented if decisive action had been taken as soon as the well blew out. Within a week of the rig explosion, parish officials wanted to block the passes, but those plans were stymied by government hesitation and concerns by ecologists.
The oil finally breached into the bay around May 20, a month after the explosion.
Now, the oil is inside -- in the marshes and wetlands -- and people are angry.
Despite being put under pressure by the U.S. government to pay for the oil-spill aftermath, BP has succeeded in pushing back on two White House proposals it considered unreasonable even as it made large concessions, according to officials familiar with the matter.
BP said costs related to its oil-spill response had reached $2 billion as it continues work to contain the leak and to pay claims for damages.
BP last week agreed to hand over $20 billion—to cover spill victims such as fishermen and hotel workers who lost wages, and to pay for the cleanup costs—a move some politicians dubbed a "shake down" by the White House. Others have portrayed it as a capitulation by an oil giant responsible for one of the worst environmental disasters in history. A truer picture falls somewhere between.
The fund is a big financial hit to BP. But behind the scenes, according to people on both sides of the negotiations, the company achieved victories that appear to have softened the blow.
BP successfully argued it shouldn't be liable for most of the broader economic distress caused by the president's six-month moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And it fended off demands to pay for restoration of the Gulf coast beyond its prespill conditions.
After the high-profile meeting of administration and BP officials on Wednesday, it was in the interest of neither to discuss such details. BP wanted to look contrite and to make a grand gesture, and the White House wanted to look tough.
President Barack Obama came away touting how BP's money would be handed over quickly and impartially to those hurt by the spill. Not only did BP earmark the $20 billion fund but it promised an additional $100 million for Gulf workers idled by the drilling moratorium.
The drilling industry estimates the moratorium will cost rig workers as much as $330 million a month in direct wages, not counting businesses servicing those rigs like machine-shop workers.
BP and its defenders argue that the moratorium was a White House policy decision for which it shouldn't be responsible. The final deal was structured to limit the company's exposure to such claims.
BP negotiators also said the company won't pay for Mr. Obama's pledge to restore the Gulf of Mexico to a condition better than before the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20.
White House officials want to use the oil-spill disaster to implement long-developed plans to restore natural marshlands and waterways. Facing record budget deficits, that pledge could founder with BP balking.
Administration officials say the concessions extracted from BP are unprecedented. Negotiators were able to graft a deal onto the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the main law dictating corporate responsibility in such a disaster, without having to ask Congress to change the law.
"A blank check was never in the cards," said an administration official at the talks. But, he added, the deal hammered out "went a very long way."
The Wednesday meeting at the White House was designed to go smoothly, the latest in a string of administration showdowns with corporate titans from General Motors to Wall Street banks. By the time BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and Chief Executive Tony Hayward walked up the White House driveway just past 10 a.m., the company had agreed in principle to the fund. "The president knew when he walked in that we were amenable to the kind of proposal we had already agree on in principle," a BP negotiator said.
Five days of preliminary talks between BP's hired lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, and White House counsel Robert Bauer had coalesced around the $20 billion figure.
But the talks—with about a half-dozen people on either side—stretched longer than expected. "A lot of the work was done before, but there were a lot of details," said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in an interview. "Details matter."
Twice, the two sides retreated from talks in the West Wing's Roosevelt Room to consult privately: On BP's ability to appeal decisions made by the $20 billion fund's independent administrator, Kenneth Feinberg; and on how far BP would go to meet Mr. Obama's request that it also aid workers hurt by the drilling moratorium.
Both sides described the negotiations as businesslike. BP hired Ms. Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, from the white-shoe law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, in part because of her ties to Democratic lawyers including Mr. Bauer.
But there was one item barely discussed ahead of the meeting: assistance for workers hurt by the moratorium, which has forced 33 deepwater rigs to pull anchor. To drive home the request, the president had Mr. Bauer relay the request to Ms. Gorelick the day before, negotiators for both sides said.
At the meeting's start, Mr. Obama told the group of his concerns about those workers, most of whom did not work for BP.
When the president and vice president left the room, Ms. Gorelick told White House negotiators their legal position mandating BP's assistance to displaced workers was weak. White House officials conceded such workers may not be able to qualify for direct assistance under the $20 billion fund, a White House official in the room said.
A BP negotiator said the White House position was "half-hearted" and its negotiators quickly gave up. "You won't find many lawyers who will say when the government imposes a moratorium, it's the company's obligation to help the workers impacted," the BP adviser said.
The BP side was so confident that Ms. Gorelick suggested the two sides let idled workers submit claims to Mr. Feinberg and allow a court to decide whether the company was liable.
A White House official said the administration believed it had grounds to push BP, but in the end, Mr. Bauer made an emotional appeal.
He called BP's move cynical and asked why the company was "lawyering" after it told Congress and the administration it wouldn't duck its financial responsibility.
In response to that appeal, BP's negotiators agreed to voluntarily add $100 million as "a goodwill gesture," one adviser said. The two sides didn't agree how that money would be distributed.
BP used the word "fund" to describe the separate pot of money. The White House called it a foundation. As of Friday afternoon, they still had a long way to go to structure the fund, said a member of the team working on final details.
—Jeffrey Sparshott contributed to this article.
Write to Jonathan Weisman at email@example.com
VIDEO RELEASE: An oiled gannet gets cleaned at the Theodore Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Click on the image above to watch the video.
THEODORE, Ala. — Dr. Heidi Stout details the efforts at the Theodore Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center as Rachael Newman and Michelle Bellizzi show how an oiled gannet is cleaned June 17, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Colin White.
For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
"Not yet Midsummer’s Night and we have months ahead of red weather. We will drink more beer than modern American medicine thinks good for us (and outlive them to prove them asses), tending the fires in our grills beneath richly speckled Creole sausages, dousing the fatty flames with a spurt from a shaken bottle. We will drive out the evil vapors of last night’s cocktails by starting the weed whacker much too early for some of the neighbors, who may curse us but will then rise up themselves and get to the yard work before the sun boils the mercury in the window thermometer. Come the Fourth of July we will stand in the mosquito thick, coffee-hot dark breeze of the levee to cool ourselves and to better view the fireworks. August will weigh down upon us like the responsibility of empire on Caesar’ shoulders and we will still stand on the blistering cement of the French Market for Satchmo Fest if we are to late to claim a bit of shade."
MY LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
Dear Barak Obama,
Many great American people gave their lives for you to be where you are. Just like they so strongly believed in equality, we believe in culture and heritage. You may think that this is way off, and totally not the same. Americans fighting for their equal rights, to be treated the same, can not be compared to people losing their culture. To us as Southern Louisianian's it is. Just like everyone else in America, we have certain things that we love in our hometown. New Yorkers love Times Square, people who live in San Fransico love the Golden Gate, it is their trademark, but more than that, it is personal to them. Tell me how these fishermen who have worked their whole lives off of these waters and made an honest living, will be the same. BP has taken their right to freedom of the land they have fished and hunted on. My community is like no other in America. We would be nothing without our marsh, bayous, and gulf. These things are literally a part of our everyday life. Apparently this is not important enough to you as the American President, and I understand when you or other people don't see what we see in this small place, and why it matters so much. It is here that generations of our families came home from war, wars that America asked them to fight for our freedom. Now, that freedom that they fought for, has been taken from us. It is a matter of my Civil Rights as an American, that you treat me equally. My son's freedom of choice has now been taken from him. He can not do what his father and 4 generations before him has done. He has no choice. He had a dream, a dream of becoming a full time Charter Fisherman. That is gone as of now and will be gone forever if something is not done immediately. Our love of these swamps and bayous are beyond explanation. How can you explain what you see as the President when you look at the American Flag or American Soldiers. Love, Pride, Beauty, Amazement, Glory, Passion, there is so much we see about our culture. We look at that oil spewing out of that pipe and its like watching a loved one die. This thing that other people see as just water, is what we need to live our lives. Lives that revolve around this water that is being taken away from us by the second. You have an obligation to protect us from any form of harm, well Mr. Obama, here it is. Someone has dropped a bomb right in the middle of our Times Square. When "topkill" failed it was like watching the second plane crash into the Towers all over again. As we watch BP try and fail it deminishes our hope. We feel just as if this is 911 all over again. You tell us this is war and we need to fight, we will be there. Yes, we would give our lives for our children to have this gift. We needed leadership and you failed us. You sent us into war with our hands tied and we have to listen to the enemy. I firmly believed that you have nothing to lose in this situation, but the respect of the American People. You have not come forward to take control of a situation that is fatal to many American people. TOXIC dispersants are still being used, even after the EPA told them to stop. You still have done nothing about this. You are the American President, you are the leader of the American People. You control these lands and anything in it. Need I remind you, Martin Luther King had a dream and died for it. You as the first black president had an obligation to be better, to bring respect back to the presidency. I think that dream has now ended in dissappointment the same way my son's has.
A Heartbroken Dreamless American
The title has a nice, warm feeling about it: "Something must be done to help the people of Louisiana". But then the condescending claws come out. Here's an excerpt:
A modest proposal: The federal government should take over Louisiana. Might as well, at this point. (like THAT would help!)....Louisiana has had more than its share of tragedies in recent years, and some, such as Hurricane Katrina, could be deemed acts of nature. But whatever the cause, every calamity that befalls Louisiana is made worse by its corrupt civic culture.
Granted, there are some truths in the article, but the downright meanness is what got me.
Here's a link to the entire thing. Read it and see what you think.
Oh, and she "apologizes" for this article on her blog here. Too late for me.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Marlin Miller, right, created the pelican for the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center. Coliseum Executive Director Bill Holmes accepts the carving.
A 550-pound cedar pelican now marks the entrance to the new Pelican Cafe at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center in Biloxi.
The pelican was created by Fort Walton Beach, Fla., artist Marlin Miller, who has carved sculptures along Beach Boulevard from Biloxi to Waveland since Katrina.
The wood for the tree was taken from Long Beach, where Katrina felled it.
The 7-foot sculpture will get a nickname this summer at an open house, said Bill Holmes, the venue’s executive director.
— SUN HERALD
Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/06/17/2269396/miller-brings-pelican-to-biloxi.html#ixzz0rEGQojhw
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Now that BP has agreed to put $20 billion into an account to fund claims, many folks along the coast are asking when more will be done to protect the fisheries and keep more oil out of the marsh.
While people welcome the promise of money to help pay the bills, they worry about what is further down the road.
"They're filled with the uncertainty of they don't know where they are going to get their next dollar from," LSU Agcenter Fisheries Agent Rusty Gaude (pronounced "go-day") said. "It is as serious if not more serious than Hurricanes Katrina and Rita."
Mike Voisin's family has been making a living off the coastal waters since the 1800's.
"I'm an 8th generation oyesterman," he explained. "Am I the last generation of oyster fisherman? That's a very real threat."
Voisin fought back tears as he talked about it.
"It just hurts... there isn't an answer."
He is trying to remain confident that there will be a great future for the seafood of Louisiana, but he doesn't know how.
Listen to Voisin here.
Many asked after President Obama's Oval Office Address why he didn't talk about defending the coast.
Retired Army General Russel Honore has called for the military to take over the shoreline defense and treat it like an invading enemy.
The recovery was the result of the kind of creative thought and innovation at work among the more than 27,000 people working around the clock in the Gulf of Mexico in the largest oil spill response in U.S. history.
Designed by Gerry Matherne, a BP contractor and nearshore task force leader, the idea is simple. A shrimp boat with outriggers on each side drags mesh oil-collection bags made of perforated webbing near the ocean surface. As the boat trawls to collect oil patches, the bags, attached to an aluminum frame, collect oil. When filled, the bags are disconnected from the frame by crew on support vessels, and then towed to a lift barge for hoisting into a collection barge.
For the collection of heavy, thick, dispersant-treated oil, this new mechanical recovery system is far more efficient than hand scooping and better suited than traditional (oleophilic) skimmer systems. Traditional skimmers are best used to collect less viscous oil that can be pumped from the skimmer into a collection tank.
"This is a great example of the heart and soul of the response…finding creative ways to get the oil offshore, which increases our effectiveness alongside traditional skimmers," said U.S. Coast Guard Incident Commander Capt. Steven Poulin.
The device was designed and built in a single week. The technology is now being duplicated for wider use in the response.
The Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program was designed and implemented to provide local boat operators an opportunity to participate in response activities, including transporting supplies, assisting wildlife rescue and deploying containment and sorbent boom. More than 1,900 VOOs have been deployed to date in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi
BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. - A line of shrimping boats acting as Vessels of Opportunity (VOOs) return to the port of Bayou La Batre after a shift change, Saturday, June 12, 2010. The VOO program was implemented to provide local boat operators an opportunity to assist with Deepwater Horizon oil spill response activities, including transporting supplies, assisting wildlife rescue and deploying containment and sorbent boom. Photo by Chief Petty Officer William McAnally.
GULF OF MEXICO – One of two one-ton masses of tarball material recovered south of Perdido Pass, Fla., by the crew of the lift boat Sailfish, a Vessel of Opportunity working in the largest oil spill response in U.S. history, on Saturday, June 11, 2010. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class John Walker, USCG.
For information about the response effort, visit http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/
DATE: June 16, 2010 23:11:32 CST
NOAA Conducts Tests to Determine Fate of Whale Found Dead in Gulf of Mexico
Whale Not Found in Oiled Water, but Cause of Death Unknown
Key contact numbers
· Report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information: (866) 448-5816
· Submit alternative response technology, services or products: (281) 366-5511
· Submit your vessel for the Vessel of Opportunity Program: (281) 366-5511
· Submit a claim for damages: (800) 440-0858
· Report oiled wildlife: (866) 557-1401
· Medical support hotline: (888) 623-0287
Deepwater Horizon Incident
Phone: (985) 902-5231
On Tuesday, June 15, the NOAA Ship Pisces reported a dead sperm whale floating 77 miles due south of the Deepwater Horizon spill site. NOAA is currently in the process of conducting thorough testing to determine the circumstances surrounding the mammal's death, as well as collect information about its life. This is the first dead whale reported since BP's rig exploded on April 20. It was not found in oiled waters; however, its location of death is unknown.
As soon as the whale was sighted, Pisces Field Party Chief Paul Felts called the marine mammal hotline to report the finding to the Wildlife Branch of the Unified Command and NOAA's marine mammal experts.
Based on the estimated size of the whale, scientists believe it is a sub-adult. Its condition suggests it may have been dead for between several days to more than a week. Although it was not found in oiled water, NOAA marine mammal experts are using hindcasting analysis to look into the location from which the whale carcass may have drifted.
While it is impossible to confirm whether exposure to oil was the cause of death, NOAA is reviewing whether factors such as ship strikes and entanglement can be eliminated. Samples collected from this carcass will be stored under proper protocols and handed off when the Pisces comes to port on July 2, or possibly if another boat is sent to meet the Pisces. Full analysis of the samples will take several weeks.
In accordance with the Wildlife Branch protocols, NOAA's Southeast Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Coordinator Blair Mase requested that the NOAA field crew take photographs of the approximately 25-foot whale, collect skin swab for oil analysis, collect blubber and skin samples for analysis, and measure its height in the water. Although the whale is very decomposed, the photographs and samples will help scientists better understand how long it has been dead. The blubber and skin samples will be used for genetic analysis and to determine the sex of the animal. Measurements of the whale floating in the water will be used to determine how far and how fast it might have floated from where it died. The carcass has been marked so that aerial reconnaissance teams will be able to identify the individual and will not report it as a new mortality.
NOAA and the Unified Command Wildlife Branch have had numerous reports of sperm whales seen swimming in the oil, but this is the first confirmed report of a dead whale since the BP oil spill began. NOAA remains concerned about sperm whales, which are the only endangered resident cetaceans in the upper Gulf of Mexico. Sperm whales spend most of their time in the upper Gulf offshore area, live at depth in areas where subsurface dispersants and oil are present, and feed on deepwater squid, which may also be impacted by the oil and dispersants.
The NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter sailed yesterday for a multi-week cruise to do photo identification, assessments, tagging, biopsies, and prey-density studies for sperm whales and Bryde's whales. Nearshore and offshore response efforts are continuing, and include investigations to determine cause of death or illness for dolphins that have stranded and aerial surveys for cetaceans throughout the area. The information gained from these efforts will help assess the impacts of this event on cetaceans in the Gulf of Mexico.
For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
NEW ORLEANS — On a normal night, Hong Le, a deckhand on a fishing boat, would be miles out on the water laying nets and lines to catch tuna. Instead, he lies awake in his rented room agonizing over the money he is not sending to his wife and children in Vietnam and the delay in his longtime dream of bringing them here, apparently dashed by the oil spill.
At each day passes, Mr. Le, 58, says he feels more hopeless. “I just wait at home,” he said hollowly through an interpreter.
Beyond the environmental and economic damage, the toll of the mammoth spill in the Gulf of Mexico is being measured in hopelessness, anxiety, stress, anger, depression and even suicidal thoughts among those most affected, social workers say.
Mindful of the surge in psychological ailments after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, community groups are trying to tend to the collective psyche of fishermen like Mr. Le even as they address more immediate needs like financial aid.
When fishermen arrive to pick up emergency aid checks at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit group in this city’s Vietnamese-American enclave, crisis counselors from Catholic Charities are on hand to screen for signs of emotional distress and to offer help.
“Are you having trouble sleeping?” the counselors ask through interpreters. “Do you feel out of energy? Do you have thoughts that you would be better off dead?”
Most of the fishermen trooping to the center lack fluency in English or skills beyond fishing, a vocation they have passed on for generations.
“They’re very distraught,” said the deputy director of the community development corporation, Tuan Nguyen. “For a lot of people, fishing is all they know. They don’t like handouts. They’re very proud. They don’t know how tomorrow is going to be.”
Catholic Charities reported this week that of the 9,800 people the counselors had approached since May 1 in Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes, 1,593 were referred for counseling because of signs of depression.
“It’s the fear of losing everything,” said Representative Anh Cao, a Republican from New Orleans who has assembled a response team to travel along the Gulf Coast to assess constituents’ needs.
Mr. Cao said he had met two fishermen in Plaquemines Parish who told him they were contemplating suicide. While those cases are “extreme,” Mr. Cao said, they reflect how some people “are approaching a point of despair.”
Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said staff members had counseled 749 people in the last week of May and the first week of June to “mitigate” symptoms that could lead to destructive behavior.
“Most people are in disbelief,” said Dr. Tony Speier, deputy assistant secretary of the department’s office of mental health. “There’s fear not just for economic survival, but for a way of life.”
While state officials have emphasized the resiliency of Gulf Coast residents, who suffered through Hurricane Katrina and other major storms like Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, experts say the region should brace for long-term psychological strain.
Researchers who studied the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill said coastal residents of Alaska saw a higher incidence of suicide, divorce, domestic violence and substance abuse. To this day, many are still dealing with the effects of the environmental damage, economic losses and lawsuits.
At the Center for Wellness and Mental Health in Chalmette, which opened last year to treat cases of post-traumatic stress disorder lingering from Hurricane Katrina, the staff is checking in on fishermen’s families, mining relationships that were forged when volunteers helped rebuild homes after the hurricane.
An effort is under way to invite wives to receive counseling and learn breathing techniques and other skills to cope with stress, said Joycelyn Heintz, the coordinator of the center, which was founded by the nonprofit St. Bernard Project and the Health Sciences Center at Louisiana State University.
Rachel Morris, one of the wives who has agreed to counseling, said her husband, Louis Lund Jr., 34, was a shell of his formerly joyful self.
After the oil spill grounded fishing, Mr. Lund managed to get a job cleaning the gulf waters for BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, Ms. Morris said. But he is stricken by the sight of dead fish on his cleanup outings, she said, and for the first time has started to frequent bars with other fishermen.
Mr. Lund frets over whether he will be able to pass on his trade to his children, a 13-month-old son and 10-year-old daughter, or even remain in New Orleans, where volunteers just finished rebuilding the family’s Katrina-flooded home last October.
“When I saw the oil rig explosion on television, I was, like, ‘O.K., oil rig explosion,’ ” Ms. Morris, 26, said, adding that she told herself to pray for the 11 rig workers who were killed. “Two days later it was, ‘The oil is not stopping.’ That’s when my husband went from a happy guy to a zombie consumed by the oil spill.”
She said Mr. Lund had refused to accept counseling. He has lashed out occasionally, she said, venting his anger one evening last week after waiting in line for nearly four hours at the local civic center to pick up his two-week paycheck.
Asked about his state of mind, Mr. Lund told a reporter: “If you’re not out there in it, you can’t comprehend what this is about. We’re going to be surrounded by it. You’re going to smell it right here.”
Similar frustration was evident one morning last week at the Mary Queen of Vietnam center, where 50 people who had been waiting since as early as 4 a.m. for the doors to open around 9 a.m. suddenly began shouting, pushing and shoving one another. The commotion was soon quelled, but not the expressions of exhaustion and worry.
One of the groups hardest hit by the spill is Vietnamese fishermen, who make up a significant part of the about 12,400 commercial licensed fishermen in Louisiana (state officials had no firm estimate, but locals estimate they are as much as a third).
Having already experienced displacement — emigrating from Vietnam and in some cases losing their homes after Hurricane Katrina — they now face a crisis of epic proportions with an uncertain duration.
Interviewed in a sparsely furnished room he rents for $300 a month in a house with bars on the windows, Mr. Le said he was surviving on handouts after a lifetime of self-sufficiency.
He arrived in the United States in 1979. Nine years ago, he married on a visit home to Phan Thiet in southeastern Vietnam, assuring his wife that one day she would join him here.
Mr. Le said he used to send up to $5,000 a year to his wife and their 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. As his family turns to other relatives for support, he is living on an initial payment of $1,200 from BP and whatever aid comes his way.
In phone conversations, his wife urges him to find a job outside the fishing industry. He applied at two Vietnamese restaurants, but neither would hire him for even the most menial work, Mr. Le said.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he murmured. “Any opportunity for work, I’ll do it.”
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Here's an excerpt:
They're only working five sites and it's eight miles of beach. No one seems concerned about cleaning it up. The contractors are getting their money; they don't care. They've got all these people out there, but they're not accomplishing anything."
Oh, wait. Not nothing: "They've brought in prostitutes." No one knows who the "they" that brought in the pack of hookers is, but the gals have definitely arrived, and you can buy time with one for $200.
To read her whole article, Click here and enjoy.
Late last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other responders issued a tally of the animals collected as of Friday in oil-impacted regions of Alabama, Florida , Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas—dead and alive. Those stats are shocking: 444 dead birds, 222 dead sea turtles, and 24 mammals (including dolphins). I sent a request to the Unified Command office last week asking for data on wildlife collected over a normal time period, pre-oil-disaster, for comparison. I haven't received a reply.
I believe those numbers are way too low, considering a report I found last night.
Click here to read the entire Mother Jones article
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Watch CBS News Videos Online
"Mr. Stearns asked Mr. McKay to resign; well, in the Asian culture we do things differently," said Cao, a Vietnamese-American who represents a New Orleans area district. "During the Samurai days, we just give you a knife and ask you to commit harakiri" - a form of Japanese ritual suicide.
Everyone's a bit on edge here on the Gulf Coast as we enter day 56 of BP's oil drilling disaster. The known impacts to wildlife and people continue to grow, and more and more questions are gnawing at us.
What will all these dispersants in the water do? Why aren't workers being given respirators and safety equipment? How many oiled pelicans, dolphins, and whales aren't being found? Why aren't we seeing more cleanup?
"Episode 3: Wildlife in distress and dispersants" of GRN's ongoing Youtube video series Gulf Tides: Monitoring BP's Oil Drilling Disaster, features underwater images of dispersed oil, oiled brown pelicans and shots of wetlands affected by BP's crude. You'll also see interviews with locals like Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association and commercial fisherman Raymond "Bozo" Couture.
As GRN works to document what is happening in the Gulf, we are also pushing the government to federalize the response and mobilize more resources for cleanup activities while holding BP financially accountable.
BP's damage to the Gulf will likely take decades to understand and mitigate, and it is sadly only the most recent and acute affront to Louisiana's coastal ecosystem in the pursuit of dirty energy. Of the football field of wetlands lost in the state every 45 minutes, forty to sixty percent can be attributed to oil and gas activity
here's a link: http://gomex.erma.noaa.gov/erma.html#x=-90.20599&y=29.38218&z=9&layers=3023+497+3660
The site incorporates data from the various agencies that are working together to tackle the spill-including NOAA, the Coast Guard, Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, NASA, USGS, DHS and Gulf states-into one customizable interactive map.
Testimony of Brenda Dardar Robichaux
Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation
Before the Subcommittee On Insular Affairs Wildlife and Oceans
Our Natural Resources at Risk: The Short and Long Term Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Good morning Chairwoman Bordallo, Ranking Member Brown and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Brenda Dardar Robichaux and I am Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation of Southeastern Louisiana. Thank you for the opportunity to testify at today’s hearing –“Our Natural Resources at Risk: The Short and Long Term Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.” We have several tribal citizens here today – Vice Principal Chief Michael Dardar, incoming Principal Chief Thomas Dardar and my father, Whitney Dardar a life-long commercial fisherman.
The United Houma Nation is an indigenous nation of approximately 17,000 citizens who currently reside along coastal, southeast Louisiana. The Houma, first encountered by LaSalle in 1682, have existed in the bayous and rivers of South central Louisiana long before Louisiana became a state and New Orleans became a French colony. Today, nearly 90% of our citizens reside in coastal Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, St. Mary, St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. The majority live in communities which are at or below sea level.
The relationship between the Houma People and these lands is fundamental to our existence as an Indian nation. The medicines we use to prevent illnesses and heal our sick, the places our ancestors are laid to rest, the fish, shrimp, crabs and oysters our people harvest, our traditional stories and the language we speak are all tied to these lands inextricably. Without these lands, our culture and way of life that has been passed down generation to generation will be gone.
Tribal citizens have been living, hunting, fishing, shrimping, crabbing, trapping and harvesting oysters in the coastal marshes and wetlands of our communities for centuries. Our people follow the seasons. In the summer we catch shrimp, crabs and garfish. In the winter we harvest oysters and trap nutria, muskrat, and otters. This is how my father and countless other tribal citizens make their living. This lifestyle is now in jeopardy.
Houma fishermen are intimately familiar with the lakes and bayous of our region. They know the stories of how these places got their names. They know how the tides flow and the winds blow. They can predict the weather without the help of technical gadgets.
Not only are many tribal citizens both directly and indirectly dependent on the commercial fishing industry, but Houma citizens harvest palmetto in the coastal marshes for basket weaving, Spanish moss for traditional doll making and many herbs and plants for traditional medicinal remedies used by tribal traiteurs or traditional healers. All of these traditions are in danger of disappearing once the continuing flow of oil infiltrates the inner
coastal marshes and wetlands of our communities. These plants are irreplaceable and many only grow in our rich marshes.
The United Houma Nation is no stranger to dealing with adversity. In the early 1900’s Houma children were not allowed into public schools because they were Indian. Christian missionaries came into our communities in the 1930’s and established schools for Houma children. Those schools only went up to the seventh or eighth grade, the teachers were often unqualified and children were punished for speaking their language. It was not until the passage of the Civil Rights Act that the Houma children were allowed into public schools. The lack of educational opportunities resulted in many Houma People continuing the traditional ways of making a living off the land.
Another obstacle for the Houma has been obtaining recognition from the federal government. We have been recognized by the State of Louisiana but have been mired in the Federal Acknowledgment Process since 1979, a year after the system for recognition was established.. In 1985, we filed our petition; we received a negative proposed finding in 1994. The proposed finding stated that we met four of the seven criteria for acknowledgment. Subsequently, we filed our rebuttal in 1996 to demonstrate that we do meet the remaining three criteria. Nearly fifteen years after we submitted our rebuttal and over thirty years after we began the process, we still do not have a final determination. We have one of the largest petitions on file and are the largest tribe to go through the federal acknowledgment process. Despite our lack of federal recognition, the United Houma Nation continues to function as a government and provides services to tribal citizens.
Located in coastal Louisiana, our communities face special challenges. We have long lived with hurricanes, and over the years, we have become efficient in preparing for and recovering from them. Within the last five years, we have dealt with four major hurricanes – Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Ike and Gustav in 2008 – and, though these storms presented incredible challenges, we have made significant progress in recovering and getting our lives back. The Tribe established a hurricane relief center where tribal citizens can receive cleaning supplies, food, clothing and other essential items. We coordinated hundreds of volunteers to help clean and rebuild homes. Through our own efforts, we have been able to get tribal citizens back on their feet and some back into their homes.
While it takes time to recover from hurricanes, even after these huge storms, our people were able to resume their lives and our fishermen have gone back to work. Because most of the Houma communities exist outside of hurricane protection levees, they are at constant risk from normal tidal flooding and from tropical storm and hurricane surges. With each hurricane, some tribal members move outside the tribal communities to areas less prone to flooding. Many cannot afford the insurance to rebuild.
Now, the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster presents us with perhaps the greatest challenge in our history as we are at risk of losing the heart of our culture – our homelands. It is without question that the oil spill will affect the estuaries within which the Houma tribal fishermen make their living. As the oil enters our coastal marshes the wetland vegetation will be killed. This prevents fish, shrimp, crabs and oysters from reproducing because these marshes are where these species spawn and receive protection from natural predators. In addition, these marshes are home to already diminishing wetland mammals such as mink, otter and muskrat.
Once the vegetation is dead, mud plains poisoned with oil will become open water, thereby eliminating critical habitat. Not only will this spill change the environment we live in, but our land loss will be critically accelerated, dwarfing the impacts of Katrina and the other recent hurricanes. This spill will have far-reaching effects that will compromise the economic, environmental and mental health of all of southeast Louisiana. For the Houmas, it also looms as a death threat to our culture as we know it.
Our tribal citizens are deeply concerned about the short and long term impacts of this oil spill. Growing up I never knew we were considered poor by government standards because we had a rich culture, were surrounded by abundant natural resources, and always had fresh food on the table. I grew up eating fish, shrimp, crabs, oysters, ducks and rabbits. Providing our families with meals based on fresh seafood and game may no longer be an option, which means putting food on the table will be difficult for some of our people.
But seafood is more than just a major source of food for our tribal citizens. Working in the seafood industry is also a major source of employment. During shrimp season, my father says it is like Christmas every morning. I fear that he may not have another Christmas. While some tribal fishermen have received checks from BP, these do not replace what they have temporarily and maybe even permanently lost. The Tribe is also concerned about those making a living in related professions such as net makers, seafood distributors, restaurant owners and others. With a limited education through no fault of their own, many tribal citizens do not have options for alternative employment. How will they support themselves and their families once the checks stop.? The answer we do not know.
We are concerned that waste produced by the spill clean up (used booms, pads, etc.) will find its way into disposal sites in our tribal areas, in particular our Grand Bois community. Grand Bois is located adjacent to an open pit oilfield waste disposal site in Lafourche parish. The 1980 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) defined any wastes that are generated during the exploration and production of petroleum, which will include any wastes generated in the clean up of this spill, as non-hazardous. Neither the crude oil nor any dispersants used in responding to this disaster are regulated as hazardous waste. Although these materials are hazardous by nature, they can be “landfarmed” in Grand Bois and other communities as “Non-Hazardous Oilfield Waste” or NOW. We do not want these materials disposed of in our communities, and we would respectfully request that this law be changed to protect all US citizens from exposure to these harmful chemicals. The citizens of Grand Bois as well as the thousands of citizens who live near oilfield waste disposal sites can testify to the toxic effects of these supposedly non-hazardous materials.
Most worrisome is the fact that we are now in hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts between 14 and 23 named storms this year and between 3 and 7 major hurricanes. The entire United Houma Nation along the Louisiana coast is completely vulnerable to widespread inundation by oil-contaminated waters. Some of our communities have been totally excluded in parish and Army Corps of Engineers levee protection systems, and many communities have very little and/or compromised protection.
A tropical storm or hurricane coming ashore west of Louisiana before the oil flow is capped and existing surface and subsurface oil cleaned up will flood these communities with an oily waste storm surge, similar to the Murphy Oil incident in St. Bernard Parish during Hurricane
Katrina. Residents’ homesteads had to be purchased by Murphy Oil. These properties and homes are uninhabitable to this day. A minimal tropical storm or even a simple strong summer storm during high tide will be disastrous to our communities. Our citizens are now very concerned that if they are required to evacuate, they may never be able to return to their homes. Such a very possible scenario will equate to thousands of Houmas being permanently displaced.
We have a special concern for the effects of this disaster on our youth. In early May, the tribe held a tribal youth leadership conference. Participants were asked about their concerns for the future and nearly all of them mentioned the oil spill. They are concerned that they will not be able to carry on the traditions of our people.
As a result of our lack of federal acknowledgment, we do not receive services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs or any other agency that require federal recognition status. When a disaster hits, federal resources are filtered to federally recognized tribes. Although sympathetic to our needs, their hands are tied in providing financial assistance to the United Houma Nation that suffers the greatest impacts of these disasters. A final determination on our petition was due over 10 years ago. We have dealt with countless hurricanes during that time and now this massive oil spill. We most certainly could have used additional resources that would be available to federally recognized tribes and need them now more than ever. In this case of the oil spill, we have been contacted by the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We plan to continue discussions with these departments and are hopeful that sufficient resources will be made available to the United Houma Nation.
Because of the enormous scope of this disaster, our tribal leadership must make tremendous efforts to ensure that our members receive timely and accurate information about its ongoing environmental and health impacts. Due to limited educational opportunities in the past, many of our tribal elders lack the skills needed to read and understand written notices or effectively use the Internet to gather information. Many of our communities are isolated, and there is limited if any monitoring of environmental conditions in them. Our tribe will require resources to collect data on air, water, and soil quality and to provide the special outreach efforts our tribal citizens will need to respond effectively to changing conditions.
The Houma are a strong, very independent, and resilient people. We have seen small canals turn into large bayous; we have watched hundreds of acres of wetlands wash away; we have seen freshwater bayous turn into saltwater; we have seen our traditional medicines disappear; we have seen tribal members move out of our communities due to constant flooding; we have seen our lands taken from us because our people were not taught to read and write and we have spent 30 years in the federal acknowledgment process without a final determination. Throughout it all, we have done what was necessary to survive.
This oil spill presents a major challenge to our existence as a tribe. Therefore, I ask that you please support our efforts to bring resources to the United Houma Nation to preserve our way of life for current and future generations.