Workers use shovels to gather and scoop the orange gooey mousse into plastic bags to be hauled to the local trash dump. Night operations on Long Beach in Long Beach and Pass Christian started July 7, 2010 and this was the third consecutive night of work in the same area. The workers are tired but in good spirits, they are not allowed to speak with us. For us to witness the work we must stay out of their way and enter and exit the containment area through the decon tents. They work hard until someone comes and tells them to stop for a break or a shift change. They keep going, working on the seemingly endless piles of oil that come ashore with the tide.
The oil collected is taken to the local dump. That’s right, it’s going into the Pecan Grove Landfill in Pass Christian, Miss.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency
By Noelle Leavitt
Sticky blobs of oil lay upon the shoreline of Grand Isle, LA that is usually cluttered with children playing in the crisp ocean this time of year.
As the laughing gulls walk along the beaches, their webbed feet occasionally touch the polluting, pudding-like mousse that was breached from a broken oil rig nearly a mile deep off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana.
A portion of the contaminated shoreline is what’s called the “hot zone,” where tar balls and sticky oil pollute the beach.
Protective booms are spread along the shorefront, as well as signs posted warning the public to stay out of the effected areas.
Local residents now rely on BP for their income, said Grand Isle resident and home builder Wesley Bland, who has received two payments of $5,000 dollars in the last couple of months for lost work.
“This year was supposed to be a big year for me, better than last year. I have built 25 homes right here in Grand Isle,” Bland said. “I employ 17 people. Since the oil hit, I have six workers, and next month I may not have any.”
The father of four young children, Bland said $5,000 isn’t enough to pay his bills.
“You know, I put a sign out and I basically told (BP) to go to hell, but BP has came in and handed checks to all the local people, and continue to do so every month,” Bland said.
By Noelle Leavitt
Tattoo artist Bobby Pitre has much to say about the BP oil spill, but he’s not doing it with words — he’s doing it with gobs of paint on billboards outside of his tattoo parlor in LaFourche, LA.
Huge paintings of President Barack Obama, the grim reaper, and an amputated body cover the front of his business — Southern Sting Tattoo Parlor — allowing him to use his own form of freedom of expression.
“It’s just a way to vent your frustration,” Pitre said. “It could’ve been prevented with a few more safety steps, you know. But they chose to ignore it, to save a few bucks, well a few million bucks, still, look at what it’s costing them now, you know.”
He also has a mannequin, wearing a gas mask, holding a dead, oil-saturated fish standing on the corner of his storefront.
“My little girl loves to fish. That’s pretty much what it is, the fish are toxic now with the oil. We can’t go out and fish,” Pitre said.
Passersby honk car horns throughout the day, sharing their annoyance with Pitre about the BP oil slick.
“On the side of the road, I could scream a hundred times a week if I wanted to,” Pitre said, adding that his art is a more useful way to assert his disappointment with the oil industry.
“People are pretty upset. There’s a lot of people that are actually working out there. As long as they’re making money, they’re alright right now. It hasn’t really hit home because they’re not starving right now,” he said. “It should’ve been stopped a long time ago, it could’ve been prevented — that’s why I’ve got this painting right here, ‘Deep Water Drilling 101’.”
Inside his parlor he has three paintings: Two of BP CEO Tony Hayward, and one of
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindel. The Jindel painting is very supportive of the governor, and outside his shop Pitre painted “Bobby Jindel for President.”
“It’s pretty tragic the way it happened,” Pitre said. “Just the spill, the amount of oil that’s coming out is ridiculous.”
Pitre actually used to work in the oil fields. He was a welder and a fitter at the ship yards, so he’s very familiar with that end of it too.
Now, he spends his days as an artist, helping people express themselves with body tattooing.