Jess Miller writes from the Gulf of Mexico:
This weekend as the U.S. celebrated Independence Day, our crew in Louisiana joined the masses and also headed to the beaches and the waterways of the Gulf of Mexico. Except instead of watching fireworks and barbeque-ing we were there to witness the devastation of the coastline by the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.
I’d heard about the tar balls washing ashore on open beaches in the area, so on Saturday morning I decided to take a look for myself. I ended up in Gulfport, Mississippi and it didn’t take long to see the effects of the disaster. I walked right past the beach full of kids playing in the water and the workers in HAZMAT suits, towards the pier where most folks were heading out to get a view of the surrounding beaches and water. As I walked past the rocks I started to notice splatters of oil and decided to take a closer look. It looked like someone had taken a hose and sprayed the jetty with oil. There were globs of it floating in the water and tons of little crabs and snails running around in the water.
The following day we sent a RHIB out to explore the waters around Grand Isle. We’d heard that the recent Hurricane pushed some of the oil back towards the shores and the birds and other wildlife were really starting to feel the effects. What we witnessed can only be described as a crime scene. Marshes soaked in oil. No crews attempting to clean up, no booms or skimmers or boats. No HAZMAT suits or helicopters and no help for the wildlife as far as we could tell. Just oil.
As we approach the 3 month anniversary of BP’s ongoing disaster in the gulf, there are more restrictions everyday. New restrictions on what we are allowed to know about the disaster and the attempt to clean it up, on how close we can get to the booms they are laying in the water to absorb and block oil, restrictions on going ashore. All these restrictions add up to a restriction on access to information. On what we are allowed to know about what is happening to our beaches and the wildlife living and dying on them.
I am joining our team on the ground in the Gulf for the coming weeks. Greenpeace has been here since just a few days after the disaster to bear witness to the impacts of the tragic disaster and help media and scientists with access to the areas impacted. I’ll be bringing those stories and telling you what they won’t let us see as well. Stay tuned.