You control our world. You’ve poisoned the air we breathe, contaminated the water we drink, and copyrighted the food we eat. We fight in your wars, die for your causes, and sacrifice our freedoms to protect you. You’ve liquidated our savings, destroyed our middle class, and used our tax dollars to bailout your unending greed. We are slaves to your corporations, zombies to your airwaves, servants to your decadence. You’ve stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders, and abolished our basic rights as human beings. You own our property, shipped away our jobs, and shredded our unions. You’ve profited off of disaster, destabilized our currencies, and raised our cost of living. You’ve monopolized our freedom, stripped away our education, and have almost extinguished our flame. We are hit… we are bleeding… but we ain’t got time to bleed. We will bring the giants to their knees and you will witness our revolution!
By Helen Tansey
April 20, 2011 marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Following is snapshot of what we’ve learned over the last 12 months since the spill. It’s not good. Instead, it’s embarrassingly horrific and it appears our Gulf Coast family is carrying this heavy burden alone.
One year later we learn from the Center for Biological Diversity some disturbing facts when they combed through “government figures, news reports and scientific articles. To provide a more accurate estimate of the death toll, we used multiplication factors identified by leading scientists that estimate how many more animals are killed than are actually observed or collected.” The results of their study are highlighted in “A Deadly Toll: The Gulf Oil Spill and the Unfolding Wildlife Disaster which states –
Last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe spilled 205.8 million gallons of oil and 225,000 tons of methane into the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 25 percent of the oil was recovered, leaving more than 154 million gallons of oil at sea. In addition to the oil, nearly 2 million gallons of toxic dispersants were sprayed into the Gulf’s waters. This did not actually reduce the amount of oil left in the ocean, but merely broke it into smaller particles, which may actually make the oil more toxic for some ocean life and ease its entry into the food chain.
In total, we found that the oil spill has likely harmed or killed approximately 82,000 birds of 102 species, approximately 6,165 sea turtles, and up to 25,900 marine mammals, including bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, melon-headed whales and sperm whales. The spill also harmed an unknown number of fish — including bluefin tuna and substantial habitat for our nation’s smallest seahorse — and an unknown but likely catastrophic number of crabs, oysters, corals and other sea life. The spill also oiled more than a thousand miles of shoreline, including beaches and marshes, which took a substantial toll on the animals and plants found at the shoreline, including seagrass, beach mice, shorebirds and others.
We also learn British Petroleum, BP, Halliburton and Transocean made so many promises to so many people most of which have been broken. On June 17, 2010, the administration announced a $20 Billion Relief Fund for those impacted by the disaster –
The deal also adhered to what Obama had said was his non-negotiable demand: that the fund and the claims process be administered independently from BP. It won’t be a government fund, either, but will be led by the administration’s “pay czar,” Kenneth Feinberg, better known as the man who oversaw the $7 billion government fund for families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Yet 12 months later, a mere $4 billion in claims has been settled with many of those appearing suspect. First, why does America even have a pay czar? Second, why Feinberg, a man that did a miserable job on behalf of the survivors of the 911 fund? Oh, I forgot, he doesn’t work for the people. He works for corporate. While Feinberg drags his feet to protect his clients assets the fishermen and businesses who did nothing more than go to work that day, continue to be severely impacted financially struggling to make ends meet. All the while they are expected to navigate the torturous intentionally cumbersome settlement system ala Feinberg.
Then we have the Transocean/Halliburton workers. Many of these men continue to suffer from PTSD. The companies provided full pay and benefits for the first eight months, but then told them they had to sign waivers to promise not to sue Transocean over serious safety concerns in order to continue to receive their pay. If they signed, bennies would continue, AND if they didn’t, they were cut off. So off to court they will go, and in the meantime they suffer emotionally from that fateful day, and will now carry the extra emotional burden to fight for just compensation and improved safety conditions for those who follow.
To make matters worse workers, responders and coastal residents have been seeking healthcare treatment for symptoms related to sudden onset of coughing, skin and eye irritation, headaches, odd red and brown lesions, labored breathing, chemically induced pneumonia and an overwhelming sense of fatigue. As more citizens complained detailing similar symptoms, a grassroot group known as the Louisiana Bucket Brigade in collaboration with Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy launched a health and economic field survey interviewing nearly 1000 coastal residents living in four different Louisiana Parishes. They released their findings in the fall of 2010 in a public report titled “BP Oil Disaster: Results from a Health and Economic Impact Survey in Four Louisiana Coastal Parishes“. Here are just a few highlights –
Five Key Findings
1. Almost three quarters of respondents who believed they were exposed to crude oil or dispersant also reported experiencing symptoms. Nearly half of all respondents reported an unusual increase in health symptoms – coughing, skin and eye irritation, headaches – consistent with chemical exposure. Also consistent with exposure was the sudden onset of these symptoms. Coastal residents reported sudden onset symptoms that quickly subsided, consistent with chemical exposure. Anxiety and mental health problems were associated with the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez spill, and health care providers might face a similar situation on the Gulf Coast.
2. There are few treatment options. Almost a third (31.1%) of respondents used over-the-counter medicine “more often than usual.” Medical treatment options are limited because there are few known medical providers in the region trained to diagnose and treat chemical exposure. More than half of the respondents had health insurance (54%), yet relatively few sought treatment for symptoms (31%) or exposures (14.8%).
3. Of those surveyed, 44% said that the livelihood of the primary provider in the home had been impacted.
4. Many people in coastal parishes need economic assistance but are not receiving it. Nearly a quarter reported needing but not receiving economic assistance due to lost income.
5. The majority of respondents in the three communities surveyed between September 6 and October 1 – 64% – expressed concern about seafood contamination.
Our neighbors in the Gulf have endured a helluva year managing their lives since the New Horizon blew up on April 20, 2010 – Promises made. Promises broken. Families destroyed. Livelihoods vanished. Food chain chemically poisoned. Businesses shuttered. Pristine white sandy beaches decimated. Extremely ill residents including the little ones. A torturous slow pace for compensation of loss wages.
Corporate, on the other hand, is doing just fine, thank you very much. BP has new leases with wells popping up all along the Gulf Coast and Transocean and Halliburton continue to staff the rigs with their employees. Business goes on as usual with nary a glimpse into the rearview mirror.
Where is our outrage? Why are we sitting by watching our Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida Gulf Coast family, friends and neighbors struggle alone? Why are we allowing this God awful chemical experiment happen to these innocent people? What, you don’t think it could happen to you? HA! Think again.
Additional reports the T-Room encourages all to read –