Vietnamese Fishermen, Shrimpers, Locked Out of Gulf Clean Up Efforts; Others Are Getting Sick
Whoopi Goldberg was saying on The View yesterday that Darth Cheney was in part responsible for the half-assed response that the government was making with regards to British Petroleum’s band aids on the massive oil spill. I don’t doubt it at all. He’s a major offender, but let’s not stop at him; let’s indict the entire oil industry. They thought that they could drill and spill without even a back-up plan to really clean-up after themselves. Why would they care about us when they haven’t cared a gnat’s fingernail about Nigeria, for instance?
Former Vice President Dick Cheney helped to relax those regulations regarding oil drilling and exploration off our coasts. Remember all those shady, cloak-and-dagger secret meetings regarding our oil after 911? When the Bush Administration simply refused to reveal exactly what was discussed at those meetings? Now we know what some of those meetings entailed. With this spill, our Federal agencies are unable to do it themselves when we used to do it like Superman or Mighty Mouse come to save the day. We are forced to use BP and its so-called strategies, and in a lot of ways, the American government itself becomes complicit with the perps in the cover-up of far worse goings on than we citizens know about.
I also blame the American public for allowing the Bushes and Cheney and even Clinton and all that bull to ride herd for the past few years, favoring or giving way to the corporate ethic time and again. Yes, President Obama deserves some blame for this, for allowing BP in the first few weeks to so-called do their job, whatever that was, and get away with murder. I swear, I believe that he trusts these guys, like Wall Street and his current economic advisors, far too fcking much. He should have been riding BP hard from the gate, being skeptical of their aims and strategies, and finally reining them in. You cannot be casual with these people, because they will run you over.
But in order to really land hard on these people, one needs tools–people, expertise and regulations–to rein them in. And Obama and his Administration probably discovered that he didn’t have anything to bring to the table, except to let BP handle it. My big problem with Obama is that he let BP handle it, rather than give everyone the impression that he wasn’t on it at all. He could have called governors, stroked the populace, called in oil execs to the Oval Office carpet, and done all the other things that even Lyndon Johnson famously did that would have stilled the critics. Obama was left holding this flaming bag of excrement from the previous administration, who of course, thought it would be business as usual in another Republican administration. However, Obama didn’t help himself by allowing Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, of all people, to look more presidential than he was. I ain’t lying. Now Mr. Hates Volcano Studies Jindal is calling on the Feds, and calling them out on their snail-slow response. And Louisiana is eating it up.
And don’t think that it is just the descendants of Cajuns and Creoles and Eastern Europeans down there in Plaquemines Parish (where my grandfather was born) getting upset about the end of their way of life in these bayous and wetlands and suffering financially. The Vietnamese–the first generation–who moved there after the boatlifts of the Seventies are also impacted by this mess.
They came to the Gulf Coast as war refugees from Vietnam in the 1980s. After Katrina, they were the very first community to return and rebuild. But just as a sense of normalcy had returned to the community of Vietnamese fishermen, the Gulf Coast oil spill hit.
“They are the ones providing this country with 30 percent of its seafood,” said Father Vien The Nguyen, the pastor of Mary Queen of Vietnam church in New Orleans East. An estimated one-third to one-half of Gulf Coast fishing vessels are owned by Vietnamese-Americans.
But many don’t speak English — and as a result, they are getting locked out of cleanup efforts and having trouble filing for lost income.
And those who are able to get jobs with BP are now reporting that they are getting sick from being around the sludge. Far be it for me to access Faux News, but this was an interesting development:
Some Louisiana fishermen affected by the massive oil spill in the Gulf — including some hired by BP to help in the cleanup — are reporting cases of debilitating headaches, burning eyes and nausea, and some industry and public officials are pointing the finger at chemical dispersants as the cause.
Gary Burris, a fisherman who works along the Gulf Coast, said he has observed planes spraying dispersants into the water, a chemical rain meant to stop oil slicks from forming and break down the crude more quickly.
Now Burris says that after breathing in the dispersants he grew ill and disoriented, confining himself to bed for days and ultimately going to a doctor for treatment and antibiotics.
“It filled my lungs with fluid,” he said. “I’m hurting — I’m sore from coughing.”
Burris and other residents of the Gulf are reporting a slew of symptoms that some biologists say are directly attributable to the chemicals now gushing into the Gulf on a daily basis.
Now get this: a friend of mine just passed onto her listserve an invitation from Shamrock Environmental Corporation for anyone to come down there and help with the clean-up. I don’t know how this is going to go, but they are paying up to $19.00 per hour. They’ll provide the training, the transportation to the site (from anywhere in the country, it appears), and a per diem for food each day.
In these cash-strapped times, all I can say is go for it, but be careful. If you already have respiratory problems, I wouldn’t consider it at all; if you get sick while down there, get the hell out. Those who lived around the Twin Towers or helped with the clean-up are still dealing with heavy metals poisoning. Imagine what cleaning up in the Louisiana muck might do not only to your lungs or to your skin, but to your reproductive system. If some fishermen are reporting that they are getting sick from trying to clean-up the mess for BP, then that means that the effort may not be worth it to some, unless they’re offering everyone their own tank of oxygen.
Actor Kevin Costner and several others have studied the problem of oil spills and have stood up in recent days to provide some solutions which may not be as toxic as the dispersant being used by BP, which claims that this is the only thing available for them to use.
BP approved a test of the Ocean Therapy machine, a centrifugal processing device that separates oil from water that was developed by a group of scientists funded by the Hollywood star following the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989, reports CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans.
“The machines are basically sophisticated centrifuge devices that can handle a huge volume of water and separate at unprecedented rates,” Ocean Therapy Solutions CEO John Houghtaling told WWL, who added that “Costner has been funding a team of scientists for the last 15 years to develop a technology which could be used for massive oil spills.”
Here are some entities that need some volunteers on the Gulf Coast:
- The National Wildlife Federation is working with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, and is encouraging anyone in the southern Louisiana area looking to help to reach out through its website;
- The International Bird Rescue and Research Center has sent a team of specialists to the region to help with any oiled wildlife. If you spot oiled wildlife, call the Wildlife Reporting Hotline at 866-557-1401. Please note that oiled birds (or any other oiled wildlife) should not be captured, but reported to the hotline;
- The National Audubon Society is recruiting volunteers to be trained to respond to the oil spill. They are also encouraging members of the public to contact the Interior Department and encourage them to halt the expansion of offshore oil drilling in the eastern United States;
- Alabama residents are asked to contact the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program at 251-431-6409; Or contact the Mobile Baykeeper at 251-433-4229 to volunteer anywhere along the Gulf Coast;
- Save Our Seabirds is a Florida bird rescue group that is looking for volunteers as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife. To help, call 941-388-3010;
- OilSpillVolunteers.com is also needing volunteers to assist with the cleanup.
And pray, folks. Pray.