BP= Big Problem

by Guest Blogger

May 13, 2010

The following update is from Molly Dorozenski, Media Officer for Greenpeace US, currently in Louisiana…

I’ve just returned for a week with the Greenpeace team based in Louisiana.

I think it’s hard for people to picture just what the waters surrounding Louisiana look like if they’ve never been there.  Before I got here, the aerial shots made it look like a vast, empty expanse of ocean.  But the oil has made it to the barrier islands, the delta of the Mississippi, and the edges of the bayou.  On daily boat trips out on the water in a boat captained by a former shrimp fisherman named Carey, and eventually, the Greenpeace boat, “Billy Greene” I saw much of the beauty of the Gulf Coast that may soon be altered or gone.

The Gulf is teeming with life.  In the bayou, we saw pelicans and egrets, terns circling overhead.  Ducks, roseate spoonbills.  Mullet were leaping out of the water, 1-2 feet above the surface — dozens of them.  On one boat trip, as we approached the area near the Gosier islands where the oil had been thick earlier in the week, we saw a pod of dolphins leaping around the boat, close enough to touch.  Now with reports of dolphins with respiratory issues, coughing, that we heard on the ground and media reports of six dead dolphins washed ashore, it seems especially sad to know they are swimming in those waters.

At Breton Island, we saw that the interior side had been surrounded by two layers of booms — the inner circle were heavily discolored from contact with the oil, which means that the oil is washing beneath them and reaching the shores.  There were so many birds you couldn’t even count them — the island is home to 23 species, including the endangered brown pelican, least tern, and piping plover. 

At Port Eads, near the mouth of the Mississippi River, on mainland Louisiana, we saw reeds coated in oil, and dark thick globs of it in the sand.  Other than those marks of the disaster, the beach was beautiful white sand, and the waters were warm – it’s a place where I once might have liked to go swimming.  If the reeds die from exposure to the oil, it won’t be long before the beach washes away.

The other layer of landscape in the gulf is also impossible not to notice — the infrastructure of a massive oil industry, platforms and piping, old, abandoned oil wells, and now, a light sheen on the surface of the water in many places, dirty booms and a slight lingering smell that suggests the heavy slicks are not too far off.  Over the week that I was there, it became terrifyingly easy to find the oil that was once hard to find on land.

Everyone we met in the gulf had the same feelings about this blowout: it’s bad, it’s getting worse, and it’s not going to be okay anytime soon.  From fisherman to boat captains, to the media clustered on the shores, to the politicians and all the regular people whose livelihoods depend, on one way or another, on the rich, vital gulf ecosystem, everyone agrees – no matter how BP tries to spin it, this is a disaster of epic proportions, maybe the worst we will see in our lifetimes. A Fox News producer told me that he looks through the camera lens so he can create one layer of remove between himself and the ugliness of what is happening.   We passed a roadsign that said “Obama send help” and at the marina, carved into the table, were the words “BP= Big Problem.”

It’s my job to work with the media at the Greenpeace, and I’m afraid that the reporters will go home, new stories will replace this one in the newspaper, while oil continues to pour out into the gulf, and BP scrambles to find a solution. If you want to help, keep talking about this story so the people around you don’t forget. 

Another way to help is to sign our petition to Congress telling them that now is the time for action to end our addiction to fossil fuels.

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