Gulf Oil Spill Update with James Pribram

Electric Pulp

Flying into New Orleans yesterday with the great Mississippi River below us, I couldn’t help but wonder what type of impact the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would
have on this area. I do know however that there is already a halt on all fishing and shrimping in effect in this area. Many of the local fisherman and their vessels are being hired to help in the cleanup efforts.

One interesting note is that five sea turtles have come up dead in the last few days with no evidence of oil contributing to their untimely deaths. Authorities here are speculating that because of the shrimping vessels being released one week early because of the impending oil spill, that rushing fisherman may have killed them accidentally as they raced against the clock against the soon-to-be halt on all fishing. Hard to imagine how many more sea turtles may be killed as the oil slick worsens.

After landing yesterday, Kristian Gustavson, who I am traveling with, and I headed to the multiple lines of defense lab at the University of New Orleans where we were briefed on the deep water horizon disaster, situation report by GIS (geographic information systems) coordinator Ezra Boyd.

Some mind-blowing figures are that an oil spill of this magnitude will cost $285 million dollars for shoreline cleanup for 30 days. There are three basic ways to combat an oil spill: using oil booms, dispersants and absorbants, as well the more drastic measure of burning the oil itself, used in a major spill like this one.Another interesting fact is that the only significant breakthrough in clean up efforts since the tragic Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 is that they now know that they can anchor the oil booms down which help keep them from splashing around.

Part 2: It’s like the quiet storm here. There’s not a soul on the beach and there hasn’t been since I arrived three days ago. Fishing boats sit docked like empty houses in an old abandon ghost town. A sad reality of the halt on the fishing and shrimping industry due to the massive oil spill that sits off of the coast of Mississippi.
Here in Biloxi, Mississippi my team and I chartered a boat out to the Gulf Islands National Sea Shore and to my amazement it was far worse than I could have imagined. I don’t want to sound like a defeatist here. However once you leave the shore behind and realize the enormity of our Ocean and the impossibility of containing an oil spill of this magnitude; it’s darn right heart breaking.
Watching the Bottle Nose dolphins glide through the water just off of our boat, almost at an arm’s length away. I could only hope that they would be safe. I feel a certain kinship with them, almost family like. Just a little farther outside sat the beautiful white sand beach of Ship Island surrounded in oil boom. Oil boom, which sits only a couple of inches above the surface, doesn’t really do much in windy conditions. Especially in windy, choppy conditions like yesterday when the water just splashes right over it.
This is the best that we have?The reality of this, in recalling my experience of yesterday, has just hit me and it sucks to say the least. I hate to admit this but my eyes are almost teary. On another island we watched birds feeding on a huge bait ball with oil scum floating on the surface. One can only imagine how long they might have?I’ve heard reports about how this is the greatest clean up effort ever? I can only say that I haven’t seen it? Perhaps it’s further out? However the oil is clearly within such efforts. I counted 9 boats laying oil boom off of the Chandelier Island and to me, it doesn’t come close to being enough?
What is enough?
How much is enough?
I’ve seen enough, and I feel like I’m watching the slow death of my best friend all over again.

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