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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/30/10

100 Days Since BP Oil Disaster Began, NOLA Natives Say Disaster is Not Over

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The plight of fishermen in the Gulf, as a result of the disaster, is especially disconcerting for Desmarais.

"The real crisis is along the Gulf -- Mississippi, Alabama, where my family is from. Those people fish for a living. I've had students who have left school at the age of 16 because they figured they were going to do what their father and grandfather had done. They were going to be a shrimper. They were going to be a fisherman. And, that's all they knew. That's all they wanted. They loved the life. It wasn't just a way of earning a living. And now not only do they have no means of earning a living any longer but that whole lifestyle going out in the boat in the morning, being in the water, being with friends and relatives--that's being poisoned."

Those impacted--for example, the people in the oyster industry who are having to close up shop--are going to be compensated for the economic and emotional trauma being endured. Right? Partially, at least. In full? Highly unlikely.

According to Cook, Kenneth Feinberg, the pay czar administering the BP escrow fund, is working for BP (although he claims to be independent) and saying "folks have to make a decision as to what their long term damages are going to be now and accept the payouts now."

"This is absurd. This is a contradiction because no one knows yet what the long-term damages or impacts of the toxic oil and dispersant are going to be on the livelihoods of people down here. Yet, they're being asked to make a decision now as to what kind of monetary payout to accept," said Cook. "And this is outrageous. There should be a national cry. Folks should not be put in these positions. This is unfair, unjust and criminal."

In addition to this apparent corporate scheming to escape accountability and responsibility, another scheme continues on. Those down along the Gulf still are unconvinced that information is flowing properly. They do not think they know what is happening and many are skeptical that the oil has in fact stopped leaking into the Gulf.

"Personally, I was lied to twice by coast guards," explains Desmarais. "A coast guard told me dispersants weren't harmful," which was contrary to scientific information Sullivan has been reading.

Desmarais added, "Residents haven't been told how much oil was gushing out. And, the "worst thing was that the Coast Guard ordered under penalty of arrest for a felony and a $40,000 fine that no one" could get within sixty-five feet of a prohibited site. At that point we went to see the ACLU and we complained about this."

Cook spoke with someone with a nonprofit organization in Louisiana monitoring the Gulf's water and he said he got the "necessary permit to go within 65 feet but they had since laid boom so he could only get within 80 feet." She added, "I spoke to a Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries person who explained that you don't want people trampling around Barrier Islands where chicks are yet." There would be no problem except:

"We have got to be able to somehow assess our damages. We have got to be able to see, to witness, to document. With all of the clampdown on information, the purpose isn't just to protect the birds, the islands where they are nesting, it's to clampdown on the flow of information."

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com
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