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.

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.

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.

Missionaries to the Gulf

Successful aid to others means respecting individual dignity and community authority within complex emergencies and disasters.  We’re so used to seeing the U.S. at the top of the world food chain that well-intended folks can take those ethical considerations for granted.  As someone who works in diverse communities with extreme inequalities domestically and internationally, this is a big topic of my profession — and something I write and think about often, particularly after living through the summer of 2005 and the experience of being in a community receiving aid.  The bottom line is that the arrogance and superiority of some well-intended folks can end up alienating and insulting the group they are trying to help.

AND… here is a perfect example.

“30 Oregonians with a wealth of compassion, community service experience and technical expertise, will show the nation what the Gulf Coast disaster looks like from inside the Gulf. We will shine a sustained light on what our neighbors need to survive and what the environment needs to recover.”

Yes, a group of folks from Portland and it’s surrounding universe are headed to New Orleans! (No offense to beautiful Portland and our friends doing wonderful things out there, this just happens to be where this group is coming from.) In any case, these folks are coming here to do 6 days of visits to Gulf Coast communities which:

“…will culminate in the production of a graphic travelogue of what we saw, learned and felt. Our experiences will be represented through the arts of drawing, writing, filming and making music. The images and voices we capture will be engaging, powerful and influential. And, most importantly our final documentation will contain a roadmap for individual action to minimize a second occurrence of this type of catastrophe. The proceeds from the sale of our book, and any other money raised, will be contributed to Gulf Coast and national efforts to educate children about this catastrophe and how we can do the best possible job of cleaning up after ourselves, plus prevent this from ever happening again.

Also, they are trying to raise $60,000. You can donate on their website. But no, the money isn’t for the Gulf… it’s to finance their trip. So that they can come to the Gulf, visit as “caring neighbors arriving to help,” spend 6 days capturing images and voices, and then put them in their book.


I showed this to my graduate students earlier today in class. In the words of one of the students: “I’m not even from the Gulf Coast and this insults ME.”

Check out their website. What do you think?

Here are are some lessons that these undoubtedly very nice, wealthy-with-compassion-Oregonians should have considered:

  • The disaster is not about you! No, really. I’m not kidding.
  • Please travel to share technical expertise where you are invited to share technical expertise.
  • If you want to “show the nation” what is happening in the Gulf Coast, then work locally to build partnerships with Gulf Coast organizations, and find places within your communities to make those voices heard. There are plenty of organizations, plenty of stories, plenty experiences — all existing without your collection, reorganization, and authority.
  • We also have artists. Many artists. Who have and can continue to creatively express the experiences of this region in a multitude of forms. We even have spaces to support them. They are very much able to “shine the light” on these communities, and would probably be interested in collaboration and partnership on projects.
  • Taking other people’s stories to publish in your book takes advantage of people who are suffering in a very unique and powerful catastrophe. Particularly when mischievously veiled within the scope of a “local gathering to break bread.”
  • Six days to “experience” the Gulf is tourism. You’re tourists. Good news — this is a fantastic place to be a tourist. Enjoy the area, tell your loved ones, friends, your contacts on your social networking sites about your experiences visiting this area. Just please don’t position yourself in a place of authority based on 6 days of tours.
  • If you want to contribute to Gulf Coast communities through service, then contact organizations and let them find ways to use your skills.

These folks are coming here with an agenda that is their own, focused on their own needs, their own desires. This does not help a situation, it only makes it more difficult.

(Hat tip to local bloggers, who found and shared the website.)

Sick ‘n Tired of the Victim Role

News tonight is that no oil is leaking after placement of the new cap and  blow out preventer on Deepwater Horizon. Now it’s time to wait and watch and hope the pressure in the well remains stable and no more  leaks develope. I, for one, am praying hard that this will work and that, once the relief wells are engaged, we will see the end of this prolonged disaster in our gulf. Yes, we’ll still have a long road to clean up BP’s mess but give us the tools and we can do it. Louisianans are no strangers to hard work and we’ll do what has to be done. Our home is just that precious to us.

I’ll tell you straight up that I am damn sick and tired of being a victim of the incompetence and negligence of others. I lived through the breach of the federally built levees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – thanks Army Corps of Engineers – and now (almost) through the pollution of our waters and near-eradication of a way-of-life due to the Deepwater Horizon explosion – thanks BP.

The people of Southeast Louisiana are a tough and resilient tribe but, dammit, we’ve had more than our share in the last five years.


World Wide BP Protest Day July 10

New Orleans, USA – Worldwide BP Protest Day – 10 July 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

6:00pm – 8:00pm

The steps next to Cafe du Monde

748 Decatur St.

New Orleans, LA

This is the New Orleans Chapter of the Worldwide BP Protest Day where we will unite in voice with dozens of major cities around the globe. The purpose of this event is to peacefully demand better legislation that seizes power from the oil companies and corporations who have been ravaging our homeland for decades. We will unite to demand justice and accountability for the destruction of our environment and for the physical and psychological damage inflicted upon our families, friends, and loved ones.

These atrocities cannot continue. Let us join forces on July 10th to let our voices be heard. Attend and invite all your friends. We CAN save the GULF. We CAN save the CITY. We CAN save the PLANET and we CAN save OURSELVES.

It is requested that if you can’t make the New Orleans Event in person, you find 5 other people to take your place, whether it be locally or in one of the other cities participating.

Local starter: Lauren Goldfinch

Information on Global Event, including participating cities on our FaceBook page.

After the protest the Krewe of Dead Pelicans will proceed to Molly’s where we will be greeted by the music of the Pair ‘o Dice Tumblers.

Hope to see y’all there!
Twitter @ww_bp_protest

Huffington Post Promoting Blatant Lie About “Oil Rain”

From Dambala:

it’s really amazing. I tried and tried to comment on that post that this story is bullshit and they “curated” my comments 3 times. It’s like a radio host yelling over a phone caller who disagrees with him…except you can’t even get through.

He’s talking about this post on The Huffington Post with attached video of so-called oil rain by some unknown bubba who, it appears, is desperate to be in the media. It’s not a big stretch to figure out someone changed their car oil and dumped it in the storm drain. Obviously, HuffPo will post anything that screams “OIL SPILL” to get hits. This is one woman who will not be hitting HuffPo again until they allow opposing opinion and publish a retraction. Unfortunately, that includes local writers who publish there as well.

BP & NOAA Coving Up Magnitude of Wildlife Deaths?

Update: I wrote this post last night. The video I talk about is now up on YouTube – here it is:

I just watched this story on Countdown with Keith Olbermann and I am incensed. Marine toxocologist Rikki Ott tells of eyewitnesses who claim people are “appearing” in the dark of night taking away carcasses of various sea life washing on shore.  She claims there are way more wildlife casualties than we are being told. and says “I’ve been able to get pictures of BP raking up bird carcasses and separating heads from bodies.” Allegedly cameras and cell phones are banned by BP representatives (who are implementing metal detectors) even though these are public beaches. In addition, oil spill workers and residents are reporting increasingly more health affects attributed to the oil such as skin rashes, burning throats and watering eyes.

Click here to hear this appalling report.