Saturday, June 12, 2010

May 24, 2010

Continuing clampdown by British Petroleum

Life and death on a barrier island

By Paul K. Haeder as told by Marc Gauthier

He’s catching some Sunday shade as the sun heats up the crude oil slick, tar clumps, dispersants and millions of acres of rainbow sheen created by 5, 10, 20, or 30 million gallons of bleeding-out hydrocarbons into the Gulf of Mexico. The beaches and shorelines he’s been walking on and kayaking around for the past week are now a total disaster.

He’s sitting down, next to his sea kayak, inside an abandoned Spanish fort, over 200 years old and beaten down by hurricanes and sun, but still there, a vestige of the masters of the sea when Grand Terre island was in the fold of the Spanish kingdom.

Marc’s studying the architectonics– wonderfully colorful and shapely seashells embedded in concrete, high, arched ceilings, granite staircases, and sinister rifle gunnels.

Katrina may have loosened and carried away some of the fort’s bricks and luster, but it is a testament to Hispania when it ruled the world by subjugating native peoples and ecosystems with the sword, gun, commerce, and cross.Marc’s wondering if “big oil” is the same sort of slave master.

“Look, these officials are letting the beaches and marshes get taken over by oil,” Marc repeated Friday and Saturday during our daily call-ins. “I’m standing here at the beach, and there is not one crew working or vacuuming up the oil. It’s absurd. They’re letting this place just get ruined. ”

On Saturday, Marc and others were looking out over the ocean for the monster creation of oil running out of mother earth like bubbles lifting out of a champagne glass. Nothing to celebrate, but plenty of dread, resentment, resignation and anger are bubbling to the surface in these coastal parishes and beach towns.

The rumor on Saturday was that Deepwater Horizon, compliments of the felonious British Petroleum, was about to deliver a 7-square mile floating sludge shroud to the Gulf Coast marshes, beaches and estuaries.

Gauthier had just finished talking with a young couple, in their 30s, who, with their three children, had been staying on a spit of land they thought would be protected from the oil deluge.

The first mistake with an oil disaster is you can’t predict anything, especially currents, winds, or oil. Additionally, the couple, like most Louisianans and Gulf Coasters, misjudged the response of BP, state agencies and our federal government, so they packed it in when their 2-year-old and 4-year-old and infant children started to complain about headaches.

“The noxious fumes were overcoming them,” Marc told me as he himself was headachy and had nearly succumbed to unconsciousness after kayaking on the water, along shores, drafting 20 inches off the surface of the ocean. “I almost didn’t get back to land … I almost passed out while paddling back.”

He instantly feel asleep once back on Grand Isle. He enlisted his mother back in Michigan do some on-line sleuthing to figure out what type of physical effects all that oil, salt water and sun degradation do to people.

“BP’s using a dispersant that no one knows what the real physiological effects are by itself, let alone what it does to people once it mixes with crude, methane, salt water and air,” Marc said.

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