BP’s clean-up response in Pensacola, Florida
I started my morning out on Pensacola Beach documenting tar balls. About 5 today I was doing an interview with Waterkeeper Magazine around Avenida 16 when I saw 4 young men walking down the beach picking up tar balls, none over 20 years old. They all had on one latex glove, similar to the ones you have seen at the doctor’s office and that was the extent of their Personal Protective Equipment. I sat through three 4 hour classes and although all three were a complete joke, I did learn enough to know that a latex glove does not constitute PPE.
I approached these healthy youngins and asked them why they did not have tyvex suits on, or at least gloves and boots. One replied that they were not given them, this same one had oil all over his white shirt, and all of them had at least some oil product on them and their clothes.
By some freak coincidence their supervisor came up in an ATV to deliver water. I asked him why his employees did not have PPE. This is where the story gets interesting. I will spare you the details but will say that this supervisor for Southern Cat was inexcusably rude and would not give his name and refused to give me any answers nor a number to call for answers. Actually he told me to call BP and other unacceptable comments….
So, I went to SRIA hoping Buck Lee and/or staff could help these young fellas. No luck. I went to the Sheriff station on the Beach, however, because this is not a “crime” they could not do anything. So I called Florida Department of Environmental Protection and got the message spread (everyone in meetings). I then called OSHA, had to leave a message. Finally I found the good folks at Channel 3 and filled them in on the situation. The feelings of helplessness compounds….
Maybe it was the mother in me coming out, maybe it was the rage of seeing tar balls all over my beach, maybe it was because I want my life back. Whatever the reason, the fact that not only are we dealing with BP’s inability to stop this leak and our government’s inability to take control of a situation out of control but now add to it worrying about the health of these teenagers being paid pennies compared to what their boss contractors are getting paid made me lose it. It is bad enough we have to stand up and scream for the helpless creatures impacted by this mess, now we have to worry about youngins trying to find work and not being taken care of.
It is sad what the Gulf Coast is being put through, it is heart breaking what the innocent creatures are enduring, it is SHAMEFUL what people are doing to make this ridiculous situation worse!
Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc.
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