Cat Island…the heartbreak continutes

I have been lucky in friending Plaquemines Parish P.J. Hahn, Director of Coastal Zone Management on facebook and following his photography. I did so during the oilspill of 2010, knowing he would provide local, honest first-person reporting of an incident that was censored by BP, the Coast Guard and our government.

I can’t watch the repeats of the footage from the BP Oilspill. The carnage just makes me ill in the same way the the replay of the explosion of Challenger in 1986. But I will never forget those dark periods in our history.

I remember that I had jury duty during one of the first weeks of the spill and I absent-mindedly chose the book Bayou Farewell, published in 2004 and authored by Mike Tidwell . This book basically predicted a Katrina experience. Of course a lot of books and articles were floating around during the early 21st century regarding the perfect storm that would be called Katrina. In the book Tidwell visited and worked with the heart and soul of southern Louisiana: the fisherpeople. The one thing that was repeated over and over by these hard working folks was the loss of our coastal wetlands and the speed in which it is happening.

The BP poisoning of the Gulf Coast is still having its effects from Louisiana to Florida, 20 months later. Just this week P.J. Hahn took a boat ride out to Cat Island in Barataria Bay to assess its health. It turned out to be extremely disappointing, as evidenced by P.J.’s pictures below:

photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn
The wildlife on the way to Cat Island looks healthy.

photo by PJ Hahn
in Barataria Bay outside of Bay Jimmy

photo by PJ Hahn
Something about seeing pelicans in flight makes me smile.

However, once they reached the island itself I’m sure their hearts dropped. Check out these pictures:

photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn

The pelicans and other birds depend on mangroves to lay their eggs.

photo by PJ Hahn

Not a lot of eggs can be laid here.
photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn

photo taken by PJ Hahn

According to PJ ‘they were mangrove trees that are critical for the pelicans to nest. The oil spill hit this island particularly hard and I’ve been trying to document the loss so we can try and rebuild the island. Before the oil spill, this island supported hundreds of thousands of various birds. This spring it will probably not be able to support a couple hundred nesting birds.”

photo by PJ Hahn
These photos were all taken on December 22, 2011.

photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn

Again, quoting PJ “. It’s been so tough, on so many fronts. Going out and seeing the effects on the fish and wildlife……listening to fears from the locals and their concern for their future, it’s been a stressful several years!”

When I asked whether BP was setting aside money for the island’s restoration here is the answer:
“BP is trying to get out of all of this. They are sponsoring commercials that basically is trying to scam the public into thinking the Gulf is now fixed and that there is nothing wrong with the seafood……….and unfortunately, it seems to be working.”

“The Big Fix” Premieres Friday Hosted by The New Orleans Film Festival

The Big Fix premieres this Friday as part of the New Orleans Film Festival. This documentary film details the massive government cover-up which has taken place in the wake of the BP oil spill.  There will be a press conference at 2 pm at the Contemporary Arts Center before the film is shown. The entire schedule for the festival can be found on their website.

Oysters in June

Despite the fact that it’s held in June – which, according to local standards, is a month with no “R” in it and therefore not good for oysters – New Orleans Oyster Festival rocks! I enjoyed attending because it doesn’t have the crowds that popular New Orleans festivals attract.

This particular festival was born out of tragedy in 2010. The BP Oil spill alienated Louisiana’s seafood industry – and still does – due to (in my opinion) consumer ignorance.

Using the same strength that helped this area come back from Katrina, the Louisiana Seafood Board and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries along with a slew of local supporters decided in June of 2010 to show that the Oyster industry was down but not out.

As the following photographs will show, there were plenty of oysters to be enjoyed, prepared in a variety of recipes. My only regret is that the local chefs haven’t come up with a good, cold oyster dish aside from shucked oysters.

We arrived at 11 A.M. knowing that the heat was going to continue to rise. The organizers of this festival did very well in providing a number of shady spots for diners and festival goers to get away from the heartless sun. Every table in the tents had linen table cloths and free fans to keep the festival goers cool.

Our first stop was one that got my attention: Redfish Grill’s Oyster Shooter with Grey Goose. Yum!!!

Here I am trying to take a picture of my oyster shooter. It was delightful, by the way.

Here is my tiny-chef daughter celebrating her oyster shooter.

Our next stop was the most visible sites of the fest: Drago’s with their charbroiled oysters.

They were delectable

Hungry for yet more oysters, we headed over to Luke for the Oyster Poboy with smoked tomato relish.

It did not disappoint us. In fact, there was a slice of bacon in the sandwich which we knew came from hogs raised on the northshore….yum, fresh pork!

I was impressed with the professionalism of the Luke staff.

By this time the Treme Brass Band had taken the stage and got the crowd into their fantastic New Orleans music.

By now it was noon and my daughter and I decided to take shelter under the cooking demo tent to cool off.

Hubby opted to roam the area in search of interesting pictures. Here are his results:

The blue guy really isn’t as wacko as he seems in this picture. 🙂

In this picture you can see me motioning that my beer is empty.

By now we were ready for more oyster dishes, so we headed for the Court of Two Sisters Booth for both Oyster Pie and Crawfish Louise.

I asked if they would divulge the recipe for the Crawfish Louise and they promised that they would when I visited the restaurant. Tiny Chef and I figured it out while eating it.

Our next choice of food was our mistake of the day.

The oysters had the consistency of liver, they were tasteless and the spinach/artichoke “bruschetta” was plain. Don’t waste your money.

The oyster shucking contest was next and was fun to watch, chiefly because Joe Cahn was the MC.

Shuckers lining up to shuck

This guys was my favorite, but he didn’t make it.

The Shucker Winner was from Desire. A humble man who shucked 20 oysters in 2 minutes.

Joe Cahn enjoyed his role as oyster taster.

What follows next is a series of pictures of people I found “interesting”.

A chef from Antoine’s

This picture is blurry, but I needed to show it to show men what NOT TO WEAR in public.

Later we ran into a friend that gave us access to the Acme Oyster House VIP area to watch the Bucktown Allstars. We found this group of derelicts interesting:

Eventually the NOPD ran them off

Our day didn’t go without catching a few local “celebrities”>

Chef Andrea Apuzzo and Joe Cahn

Monica Pierre, local radio host and award winning woman.

By this time it was 3 pm and we were as fried as the oysters, so we decided to head home. All three of us are sunburned in one way or another, but it was fun. We’re looking forward to next week’s Vieux To Do featuring three festivals in one.

for the fishermen

On WWL-TV this morning, there was a quick video about the release of a seafood cookbook fundraiser, sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Festival Foundation with the proceeds benefiting the Friends of the Fishermen Fund.

The cookbook can be purchased at any Rouse’s grocery and costs $9.95. It is a softcover book, however it contains excellent seafood recipes from most of the famous chef’s cooking in the New Orleans area. I purchased one this morning and already have a dozen pages marked to try out recipes. These would make great Christmas gifts too, for the cooks on your list. One thing I noticed as I read the local chef’s biographies is that many of them are graduates of New Orleans’ own Delgado Culinary School!

The Louisiana Seafood Festival will be held in the French Quarter the weekend of June 11-12. Check it out and help support our local fishermen.

Thousands of Gulf Coast Residents Sickened by Effects of Oil Spill

The following post was originally published April 12 on local blog American Zombie.

More Cries for Help

Last Saturday I spent the day at Dr. Michael Robichaux’s farm in Raceland talking with well over 60 offshore workers, fisherman, and family members who are experiencing extreme health effects from the BP oil spill.  Many of the workers who came into direct contact with the oil and the dispersant, Corexit, are experiencing similar health problems ranging from mild sypmptoms to life threatening conditions.  It’s not only the men who were out on the Gulf during the spill that are sick, family members are experiencing health problems as well.  Even people who swam in the ocean are stricken.

While I can’t confirm this number, I am told by folks monitoring the issues that they estimate thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida are suffering.   Some are experiencing mild symptoms such as asthma, nausea, and headaches, while others are suffering extreme health issues such as internal bleeding, paralysis and even death….yes death.

The following video is a testimonial from Louisiana charter boat captain, Louis Bayhi.  It’s 6 minutes long and I implore you to watch the entire thing:

Capt. Louis Bayhi – Charter boat captain and BP clean up worker experiencing severe health problems from Blackbird Media on Vimeo.

Louis was one of over 40 fisherman I spoke with on Saturday who is gravely ill.  All of these fisherman confirmed to me that the Gulf is still full of oil and dispersant is continually being deployed….including areas which have been deemed safe for seafood harvesting.

There are more testimonials coming….please help spread this message…please help spread the truth.  The nightmare BP left us with is not over, in fact it may just be starting.  The MSM is not going to report what’s happening, but I implore you to dig deeper and don’t trust what you are being spoon-fed.

I fully expect to get attacked on the seafood issue but my response is fire away…I just spoke with over 40 guys who are out there every day and their concerns have now become mine.  I will take their word over anyone.

Check out the LEAN – Louisiana Environmental Action Network website for more information.

Companies granted protection with BP Oil Spill No Sue Waiver

The following is a  list of companies that are being granted protection for any future litigation when claimants sign a no sue waiver when opting to receive a lump sum final payment from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, known as the GCCF. The GCCF released a sample of the waiver, listing these companies in their attachment A, on their website on Friday, December 17, 2010.

  • Aerotek, Inc.
  • Ameri-Force, Inc.
  • Anadarko Petroleum Company
  • Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
  • Anadarko E&P Company LP
  • Art Catering, Inc.
  • Ashland
  • BJ Services Company, USA
  • BP America Inc.
  • BP America Production Company
  • BP Company North America Inc.
  • BP Corporation North America Inc.
  • BP Corporation North America Inc. Savings Plan Investment Oversight Committee
  • BP Energy Company
  • BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.
  • BP Global Special Products (America) Inc.
  • BP Holdings North America Limited
  • BP plc
  • BP Products North America Inc.
  • Brett Robinson Gulf Corporation
  • Cameron Corporation
  • Cameron International Corporation f/k/a Cooper Cameron Corporation
  • Cameron International Corporation d/b/a/ Cameron Systems Corporation
  • Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health L.L.C.
  • Chouest Shorebase Services, LLC
  • Clean Harbors
  • Core 4 Kebawk, LLC
  • Crowder/Gulf Joint Venture
  • Crowder Gulf Disaster Recovery
  • Diamond Offshore Company
  • DOF Subsea USA, Inc.
  • Drill-Quip, Inc.
  • Entrix, Inc.
  • Environmental Standards
  • EPS Corporation
  • ERG
  • ES&H Environmental Services
  • ESIS, Inc.
  • Exponent
  • Global Diving & Salvage, Inc.
  • Gulf Offshore Logistics, LLC
  • Gulf Offshore Logistics International,LLC
  • Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.
  • Halliburton Company
  • Hamilton Eng.
  • Hepaco
  • Hilcorp Energy Company
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd, Inc.
  • Hyundai Motor Company
  • In Rem Vessels
  • Island Ventures II
  • Jupiter Insurance Limited
  • LaBorde Marine Services, LLC
  • Lloyd’s of London
  • Marine Spill Response Corporation
  • MEG Energy Corp
  • M-I L.L.C.
  • M-I Drilling Fluids L.L.C.
  • M-I Swaco
  • Miller Environmental Group, Inc.  Mitsui & Co. (USA), Inc.
  • Mitsui & Co. Ltd.
  • Mitsui Oil Exploration Co. Ltd.
  • Moran Environmental Recovery, LLC
  • MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC
  • Moex USA Corporation
  • MV Monica  Ann
  • MV Pat Tilman
  • MV Damon B. Bankston
  • MV Max Chouest
  • MV Ocean Interventions
  • MV C. Express
  • MV Joe Griffin
  • MV Mr. Sidney
  • MV Hilda Lab
  • MV Sailfish
  • MV Seacor Washington
  • MV Seacor Vanguard
  • Nalco Holding Company
  • Nalco Finance Holdings LLC
  • Nalco Finance Holdings Inc.
  • Nalco Holdings LLC
  • Nalco Company
  • Nautical Ventures, LLC
  • Nautical Solutions, LLC
  • O’Brien’s Response Management, Inc.
  • Ocean Runner, Inc.
  • Oceaneering International, Inc.
  • Offshore Cleaning Systems L.L.C.Offshore Service Vessels, LLC
  • Offshore Inland Marine & Oilfield Services, Inc.
  • Ranger Offshore, Inc.
  • Reel Pipe, LLC
  • Schlumberger, Ltd.
  • Seacor Marine, LLC
  • Seacor Marine, Inc.
  • Seacor Marine International, Inc.
  • Siemens Financial, Inc.
  • Seafairer Boat, LLC
  • State Street Bank and Trust Company
  • Subsea 7 LLC
  • The Response Group, Inc.
  • TestAmerica, Inc.,
  • Tiburon Divers, Inc.
  • Tidewater Marine LLC
  • Tiger Safety, LLC
  • TL Wallace
  • Transocean Inc.
  • Transocean Deepwater, Inc.
  • Transocean Drilling (U.S.A.) Inc.
  • Transocean Enterprise Inc.
  • Transocean Holdings Inc.
  • Transocean Holdings LLC
  • Transocean Ltd.
  • Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc.
  • Transocean Offshore USA, Inc.
  • Triton Asset Leasing GmbH
  • Triton Hungary Asset Management KFT
  • Triton Hungary Asset Management Limited Liability Company
  • USES/Construct Corps
  • Weatherford International Ltd.
  • Weatherford U.S. L.P
  • Worley Catastrophe Services, LLC
  • Worley Catastrophe Response, LLC


In The Name of Oil

This video is a production – a very good production – of Pablo Neruda’s poem Standard Oil Co. If the oilspill catastrophe of the Deepwater Horizon last April (6 months ago today) affected you in any way, I think you’ll find this quite provocative. Even if you don’t like poetry.

Trust me.

Oil, Health, Environment & Bloggers

“In the past five months, Gulf Coast residents have been treated to a number of decisions with direct impact on their lives. They weren’t asked to give input at the time these decisions were made. They weren’t asked how they thought it might affect their future. The decisions occurred above their heads and most times, without their knowledge, but they are the ones now paying the price. This post is the first of three parts having to do with these decisions. Part one will address British Petroleum’s use of the dispersant, Corexit while two and three will be concerned with Bobby Jindal’s sand berms and the federal government’s response, including the amount of control ceded to British Petroleum. All three will address the issue of the courage necessary to change course in the Gulf, the importance of doing so and who will be affected. All three decisions to be looked at had to do with money and politics, and changing course now will affect the back accounts and political standing of the people in charge, but change must happen.”

So begins a fascinating series of posts by Disenfranchised Citizen – a series I highly recommend to everyone living on the Gulf Coast and everyone concerned about the effect of the BP oilspill on our environment and the health of those living along the coast. The first post, Changing Course in the Gulf: Bad Lessons in Money and Politics Pt. 1 – BP and Corexit, discusses the perils of the use of the oil dispersant Corexit and the relationship between BP and Nalco Group, it’s producers.

Dauphin Island, Al - Corexit containers

The second installment, Changing Course in the Gulf: Bad Lessons in Money and Politics Pt. 2 – Bobby Jindal, Sand Berms and the Shaw Group, outlines the folly of Gov Jindal’s sand berm project, his dismissal of any scientific evidence contrary to the project and questions the real motivations behind constructing the berms.
I am eagerly awaiting the final post and I urge you all to go now and read this very intriguing series.

American Zombie also has a good piece up today, Buried in the Outdoor Section, questioning why there isn’t more wide-spread reporting of an alleged thick layer of oil on the sea floor found by a group of scientists on a research vessel in the Gulf.

And, finally and heartbreakingly, we get the news of a huge fish kill reported in Plaquemines Parish “found in an area that has been impacted by the oil from the BP oil spill, the parish said.” (Via Library Chronicles)

Fish Kill in Plaquemines Parish

News of the oil catastrophe seems to be fading ever more quickly as the days pass but the effects on our environment and the health of our fellow citizens is only in the infancy stage, I fear. We cannot allow this atrocity to fade from our consiousness and, with bloggers like these three men , hopefully it won’t .

Women of the Gulf

Recently I was asked on Twitter by @womenadvocates of  Womens News Network, “How are things for women going in New Orleans w #gulfoil crisis?”

Big question.

I know people who follow this blog have read Amanda’s poignant and personal accounts of how the oilspill has affected her and her family. You’ve read coldspaghetti’s opinion (and she’s not alone) questioning  the true intentions of those who profess they’re here to help. You’ve seen maringouin’s photos of the BP Protest in Jackson Square.

Mother Jones has published a bleak and alarming piece about the effects on the wives of fisherman as they stare into the face of the demolition of their way of life, facing increased domestic abuse, depression and the possibility of losing their homes and everything they own.

But let me shut up and direct you to this video of Kindra Arnesen, the wife of a fisherman.  Her words, as someone on the front lines in south Plaquemines Parish, leave no question as to how women and their families are doing.

Misadventures with BP: Claims

My husband works in an industry that has been directly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the slow environmental homicide that has been taking place now for nearly ninety days. We are fortunate that my husband is still able to work, but as June came we saw business trail off. So far in July, business has trailed off more. My husband is searching for a new job, afraid each night when he goes into work it is going to be the night that he is told his hours have been drastically cut or for him to take a couple of days off. 

It is an uncomfortable situation that causes high anxiety and many sleepless nights.

Last month we filed our claim with BP and were approved for $1000. While I am thankful for the $1000.00, it did not cover our loss and some creative financing on my part was required of me.

When we took in a letter from my husband’s employer, our 2009 tax return and my husband’s check stubs, we were told that each month our claim would “renew” automatically and from thirty days from our last payment we should receive the next payment. At the BP Claim center, a check was written and we were on our way home.

And then I read a press release that stated that there would now be a formula taking into account actual loss compared to estimated loss, that claims were going to be looked upon more closely and an advance would not simply be given as was previous done and that starting in August, this new process would come into play. This confused me, as it completely contradicted the information that we have been given by the auditor at the time of our claim filing.

I called the 800 number provided by BP for any questions regarding already filed claims and I spoke with one BP phone agent that told me that what we received was a one-time  payment and we would not receive another.

Ok, great. That’s fine. I am thankful that we received what we did when we did, because it really helped us adjust to the rather large dip in our income.

Then I read another press release from BP, which prompting me to call the 800 number again, this time reaching a young man that seemed to actually know what he was talking about. I was on hold for thirty minutes before I finally was connected to a human voice, but when I did the guy was nice and didn’t get annoyed when I asked a thousand questions, asking for clarification on clauses and statements that appear in the BP claims process handbook and made sure I was getting the correct information.

I was informed that we would get the checks automatically sometime between thirty and forty days and that no more paper work would be required of me and I wouldn’t have to go to a claims office again to re-file.

Great. That really cleared things up for me and sounded more on point with what the most recent press release had stated.

An 800 number was left on our voicemail by BP and we called back. This time, it was our auditor, a man in the local office who was met with when the claim was initially filed.

He told us that we had to bring in documentation (pay stubs for us) every month at the end of the month, because there is no way that BP could give us an advance payment, but would have to pay us our loss after the fact. Ok, I think I get that, especially if they are trying to streamline the claims process, which is the impression that I am getting from all that I have read and the individuals I have spoken to.  BUT we were told that now we need to meet with him every month and essentially file our claim on a claim that was already open. My husband informed him that he would not be receiving any more paychecks for July, so perhaps my husband could just bring them in.

It wouldn’t matter; it won’t be looked at until August, even though they are trying to process these during the current month.

Tails are still heads to me and heads are still tales.

I would like to say that all of the individuals we have dealt with, with one exception, have been extremely kind. This does illustrate, however, the disjointed communication of policy going throughout the company from the national office for claims to the local offices to what BP is releasing to the press.

Despite promises by BP to the press to release claim money thirty days after June payments, we are now finding out that a continue stream of documentation is going to be required, given that the information that we received today (since all three people have told us very different things) and this automatic program that BP had spoken about really isn’t an automatic program at all. It has been released in the press recently that most claims are rejected because of lack of documentation. BP doesn’t make filing for the claims any easier when apparently they are changing policy every day. Instead of taking their disorganization into account for many people really struggling financially, a big, fat NO is given instead.

BP needs to get on the same page and stop jumping around like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.

For some people, their claim check is all they have.