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BP Oil Spill: Gulf Coast Update - #2

Updated on June 13, 2011

Gulf Coast

Me, The Feds and BP

I had not intended to post a gulf coast update this quickly. I made one just last week. But, events of this past Tuesday have compelled me to make this hub. First, things are about the same for the beaches in Biloxi, MS and the surrounding beaches in Mississippi. Same goes for beaches in Pensacola (the beaches there are closed to the public). Beaches in southern Alabama are no worse with one exception; Orange Beach. This beach is beyond belief.

This past Tuesday I decided to go to one of our beaches here in southern Alabama. I have been going there since I was a little boy all of 8 years old. That makes just over 50 years. I have enjoyed the warm gulf waters and fishing there for that length of time. As I said, I decided to see for myself how bad things were at this beach. There were approximately 50 people cleaning up the beach. They need approximately ten times that number...at least. I brought my little digital camera with me that I have not really used for about two years. I got a new battery and decided to take some pictures. I noticed as I was about to take my first picture at this beach, a man in a beige suit pointing at me. This beach had no notifications of being closed to the public. A local law enforcement officer came toward me. The conversation went like this:

LOCAL: Sir, you are going to have to leave. This is a hazardous area.

ME: Well, there are not signs designating this as a hazardous area. There were no signs saying it was a closed area either.

LOCAL: I don't know anything about that. But, you still have to leave and leave right now.

ME: I'm sorry, but this is a public beach. It has not been designated as a hazardous area. It has not been shut down. Why do I have to leave?

About this time one of about three feds showed up. How did I know he was a fed? I worked in the federal government for 20+ years. I know a fed when I see one. Also, right before fed #1 showed up, he had one of the BP hardhat guys motion toward me. There were two BP hardhat guys there.

FED#1: Is there a problem here? Sir...you can't be taking pictures here. Journalists are not being allowed in at this time.

ME: I'm not a damn journalist. I am a private citizen of the United States of America visiting a beach I grew up loving and enjoying for over 50 years. Why can't I take pictures?

LOCAL: Sir, you are going to lose this one. Take my advice, take your camera and go back the way you came. This area is not safe for you.

ME: Ok, if it is not safe for me, it is not safe for all those people cleaning up the beach either, right?

Now the local law enforcement officer and fed #1 are getting pissed. Two more feds show up at this time.

FED#2: Sir, you have been dutifully ordered to vacate the premises. Either leave or Deputy ***** will place you under arrest for refusing a lawful order to vacate. It is your choice.

ME: (I'm out numbered and out gunned) Ok, I'll leave. But, first I want names. I have the deputy's name. I want the names of you guys.

FED#2: The only information you need is that you have been lawfully ordered to leave. What happens next is...we need your camera also.

ME: You're not getting my damn camera! I have not been charged with a crime and I have broken no laws. I am leaving. But, you will not get my camera. We'll all be at the U.S. district courthouse next week if you try to take it from me.

With this, they all huddled together...feds, local and BP guys. I have to say the BP guys looked at me like they wanted to slice me up and feed me to all the dying sharks out in the gulf.

While they were huddled up, I decided to make my escape. I thought they were going to come after me at any moment as I was walking away. But, they did not follow me. I was already pissed when I got home. I was even more pissed off when the three pics I did take were all blurry. I don't know if it was due to a camera malfunction or if the toxic environment was the reason.

You swim at your own risk (you're a fool if you do get in the water). But, there is no reason why they can't let ordinary people come out and watch the cleanup from a safe distance. To be completely honest, I could not have stayed out there for very long. The smell is nauseating. I had a headache for three hours after I left. I don't know if it was due to my blood pressure being up because I was mad or if it was the toxic sludge coming ashore. I don't normally get headaches.

I do agree with the feds and BP people it is not safe to be out there. But, as I asked them, how can it be safe for the people cleaning up this mess? I saw something on CNN that alarmed me a couple of weeks ago. 98% of the people involved in the Exxon Valdez cleanup are deceased. Think about that for a moment. If it is true, what will be the true cost to the gulf coast in terms of wetlands and people?

Comments

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  • Writer David profile imageAUTHOR

    Writer David 

    8 years ago from Mobile, AL

    K and SaMcNutt, as bad as things were that day, it now appears the oil spill could be capped soon if reports are now to be believed. That makes everyone fee somewhat better. But, now, the really tough questions are about to be asked. How did this happen? What mistakes were made? Who is at fault? Now, the blame game begins.

  • SaMcNutt profile image

    SaMcNutt 

    8 years ago from Englewood, CO

    Really? I am blown away by your account for many reasons, though not surprised. I am truly sorry that you lost the beach of your childhood.

  • KFlippin profile image

    KFlippin 

    8 years ago from Amazon

    Considering how physically bad you felt after being there for just a short while, it sounds like places like this ought to have a sign up that says 'hazardoud area' 'no entry allowed at this time', pretty normal procedure. The same was followed with the state/federal parks that were torn apart by hurricanes.

    So, I'd say that lack of warning, lack of a clear posted reason, is the most puzzling, most disturbing thing of all. Are they afraid to call attention to the health hazards? If so, they've erred in that regard.

    And certainly preventing the media from being in air space in a plane and shooting photos/video is not a health hazard issue - which means it is not just about health issues.

    Were the workers and the feds,locals, and BP guys wearing face masks?

    Breathing gas fumes is a known carcinogen, I always check wind direction at a gas pump and stand upwind while pumping. This mess has to be toxic where it flows on shore like a blanket. Skimmers should have stopped it from ever happening.

    And if 98% of the folks that helped 'clean up' the Exon Valdez are deceased, then that makes it clear that this enormous spill, is quite hazardous, as many of those who helped clean up the shores back then should only be in their 50's and 60's now, with much life still ahead of them.

  • Writer David profile imageAUTHOR

    Writer David 

    8 years ago from Mobile, AL

    breakfastpop, I have always made it a point to obey the law. If there had been signs posted not to enter that area, I would not have gone there. It was just the way they reacted to me that got me fired up. Upon further reflection, I can't say I disagree with them in that this was a very hazardous area. They were right it was not safe for me to be there. However, there is a right way to do things...and then there is the government's way.

  • breakfastpop profile image

    breakfastpop 

    8 years ago

    Great reporting. You have no idea how great a service you are doing. I did read that journalists are not allowed anywhere near the clean-up area and that the area has been declared a no-fly zone. The encounter you had at the beach is right out of a work of fiction and I am heartsick to realize that fiction is now fact. I love how you stood up to these people. I give this hub a big thumbs up!

  • Writer David profile imageAUTHOR

    Writer David 

    8 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Sheri, upon looking at this a bit more calmly, I can see their being concerned with me being there. It is extemely hazardous in certain areas on our gulf coast beaches right now. That still doesn't explain why they didn't have signs posted about the hazardous area or about the camera.

    eovery, I agree with everything in your comment. I also took my digital camera to a local camera store to see if they could retrieve the pics. Sadly, they informed me this was a result of the camera malfunction as I feared. As such, they were unable to save the images. They did clear up one that I am going to try to upload next time I make a gulf coast update.

  • eovery profile image

    eovery 

    8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

    If you go to a good print shop, they can make a blurry photo come into focus. It may cost a little more.

    I think they are doing this to try to prevent further liability on BP, and also to keep the public away from potential harmful conditions and liability to BP. I can see reasons for these precautions.

    Not allowing pictures is another thing, but if you are not allowed to be there, I guess you can't take pictures either. Keep the masses from coming and trying to take pictures.

    Keep on hubbing.

  • SheriSapp profile image

    SheriSapp 

    8 years ago from West Virginia

    WOW WOW WOW This sounds like something that would happen in China or North Korea. I thought the libs called Bush Hitler, it sure looks like the current "president" is closer to old Adolph than W ever was!!

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