Report on Slidell Community Forum (June 1, 2010)
By Elizabeth Cook
This so-called community forum we found out last night was organized by NOAA, and not by local officials. It was paid for by BP. It was a PR stunt that went badly wrong because we attended. Christine Breault attended with myself and Cody. She spoke to PR consultants from New Orleans who were hired by BP to be there. Several of them kept walking up to me asking me either to calm down or what is my question or questions.
It was disturbing to see the state agencies represented there: DEQ, Coastal Restoration and the state department of health. Other than the state agencies, this was a forum of misinformation: EPA, NOAA, BP and the Coast Guard, all colluded on spreading lies. The Coast Guard, EPA and NOAA are embedded in BP.
The EPA official acknowledged that Corexit is banned in the UK, and that it’s never been used in such massive quantities. Rest assured though, they are studying its impact. He could not say how much is actually being dumped in the Gulf, nor what mechanism they have in place to assure that BP doesn’t use more than the EPA has approved. He pointed to the Coast Guard for those answers, and perhaps Christine will blog on this, as she spoke to the Coast Guard on these issues.
One BP official acknowledged the existence of “one plume”. I pointed out that university researches have discovered others, but he personally knew of only one. I overheard One BP official explaining to other BP employees that the Corexit will degrade the oil “naturally”. When I questioned him, he denied knowing how the oil has gotten into the marsh; he denied, essentially, that the dispersant is causing the oil to sink below the surface to move into the marsh, below the surface, rendering the booms incapable of stopping the advancing oil.
I spoke to folks from the state Coastal Restoration department. My father retired from that department, and they knew him. I asked them why hasn’t the state tapped into the vast wealth of research and information that’s already been conducted by LSU on oil spills and natural enzymes and such that can break down the oil and get rid of it out of the marsh. They replied they asked the same question in a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and didn’t get an answer.
The stranglehold that BP has on the flow of information and transparency is absolutely the problem with the “response”. I confronted the Coast Guard on this issue, and I accused them of protecting a corporation over and above the people of Louisiana. They looked pretty sheepish. These are lower level grunts of course, there to shill for the response “efforts” on behalf of BP. This is corporate fascism in action: a BP PR forum, with all attendant federal and state agencies dutifully attending and talking up the “response”.
At the end of the forum, which was really a set of tables with officials from various agencies talking to folks on an individual basis, I was approached by a woman who said they were “wrapping up”. She was interrupting me because I was confronting BP officials. It turns out, she was with NOAA.
I said, “Oh, NOAA is embedded in BP also.” This infuriated her, and she stalked off. I then held up Cody’s protest sign, looking right at her. She stalked off angrily to ask a police officer to escort me out of there. He approached me, and was actually nice about it. Other security also approached me, and I held the sign aloft as I backed out of the meeting room, declaring that it was my wish that more fisherman had attended to confront these officials.
It was held in Slidell we believe for the purpose of excluding as many folks as possible who have been directly impacted. They would never hold such a meeting in St. Bernard, for example, or Plaquemines Parish.
See Also: Oil-Eating Microbe Video