Friday, April 20, 2012

"Making It Right" After BP Oil Disaster Is Up to Us - Not BP by Dr. Riki Ott

Grand Isle, Louisiana. When I returned to Cordova, Alaska, in December 2010 after my first six-month stint in the Gulf coast communities impacted by the BP oil disaster, fishermen greeted me wryly. "See you found your way home."
Fishermen were interested in stories because even then, twenty-one years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, there was still no sense of closure. Exxon never "made it right." How could Exxon "make right" family lives shattered by divorce, suicide, or strange illnesses stemming from the "cleanup" work? Or the sense of betrayal by the Supreme Court to hold Exxon to its promise to "pay all reasonable claims"?
As fishermen listened to the Gulf stories, one asked, "Do they know how f---ed they are yet?" No, I explained, they've only lost one fishing season and they just now are filing claims for the first deadline.
When I returned to the Gulf in early January 2011, I heard the same story from Louisiana to Florida. "Everything you warned us about is coming true." During the next four months, I witnessed "oil-sick" people from grandbabies to elders, people distraught from claims denied, shellfish fisheries collapsing, baby and adult dolphins dying in unusually high numbers, continued dispersant spraying, and the early stages of Gulf ecosystem collapse -- all while nationwide ads claimed BP is "making it right."
Two years after the BP oil disaster, I ask for people to help make it right -- in the Gulf and across the country. We have the power to stop BP and the federal government from doing more harm. It is time to exercise our power in our communities.
Stop the false ad campaign.
When you hear one of BP's "making it right" ads, call your local media station. Tell them to pull the greenwashing ads and get the real story. The Gulf is sick and so are its coastal residents. Money, even heaps of it, will never make it right. Airing the misleading ads only makes things worse, especially in the Gulf where people despise BP's bid to brainwash other Americans.
Stop spraying chemical dispersants.
Chemical dispersants are the oil industry's preferred method of marine spill response in the United States. Dispersants drive the oil out of sight, out of mind, while dispersant production companies like Nalco profit handsomely and the spiller writes off the expense as a cost of doing business. Big oil companies often make their own dispersants -- and profits from sales -- but hide connections through subsidiaries. Small wonder that spillers prefer dispersants.
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