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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/7/10

Mitigating Annihilation

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Dahr Jamail
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Reprinted from Truthout

From the air, the area north of Grand Isle, Louisiana, much of it around Barataria Bay, looks like scorched earth. This area has been and is heavily afflicted by BP's oil. The so-called cleanup efforts, including laying out booms to supposedly prevent oil from destroying more marsh and killing more wildlife, are a farce.

Opaque, multi-color sheen stains much of the bay and is visible in countless inlets that snake their way into the marsh. The contrast between the green marsh area yet to be soiled and the marsh already blackened by the oil and the sheen covered Gulf water is stark. The afflicted water appears as a lifeless, dull, silvery fluid.

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld 2010

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld 2010

While BP has put forth great effort in securing tax benefits acquired from leasing rigs like the sunken Deepwater Horizon, it has also saved money by choosing not to pursue better cleanup methods and technologies. We live in a corporate world where profit is god. Profit rules. Showing a profit on the next quarterly earnings statement is everything. This is how a multi-billion dollar oil giant like BP (yes, we can include the others as well - Exxon/Mobile, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Total S.A.) spends vast troughs of money on developing the latest oil exploration and drilling technologies. But when it comes to cleaning up their toxic mess when disaster strikes, every expense is spared.

Many people across varying industries working in the so-called cleanup effort understand that laying out boom to contain oil is largely an act designed primarily to impress politicians and uninformed media. The so-called cleanup work BP is engaged in on the soiled Gulf Coast has been shoddy, at best, including allegations that BP has been dumping sand atop oil on beaches to cover it up. Controlled oil burns in the Gulf are also, needless to say, coming under criticism for their devastating impact on the environment, in addition to negatively impacting the human health of residents on Louisiana's coast.

But this should not come as a surprise, given that one of the first things BP did in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster was to launch a campaign to strengthen its legal defense with the best attorneys money can buy, rein in legal teams and buy up experts who might otherwise work for plaintiffs in cases against the oil giant.

The more we see of this so-called cleanup and containment plan of BP's, the more it appears to be the second largest contributing factor in destroying the ecology and culture of the Gulf region, behind, of course, BP's oil volcano at the floor of the Gulf.

From the air, we see the same boom catastrophe as we did from our recent boat trip into the marsh. In some areas, boom does little more than outline the dead areas of the marsh, having gathered into piles and left to soak oil directly onto the land.

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld 2010

Time after time, we fly over small marsh islands, their shores scorched by oil, the marsh grass immediately dying, surrounded by boom.

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld 2010

Sheen covers the water, held against the islands by the booming.

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld 2010

"It's as though the booms do nothing more than hold oil in the marsh, rather than keeping it out," I comment into my headphones as we fly low, just above the soiled islands. Charlie, our pilot, nods.

Erika hangs out her open window, taking hundreds of photos of the destruction caused by BP's criminal negligence.

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DAHR JAMAIL He is author of the book Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq. Jamailà ‚¬ „ s work has been featured on National Public Radio, the Guardian, The Nation, and The Progressive. He has received (more...)
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