Coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill by Noelle Leavitt and Jenn LeBlanc

Posts tagged “frustration

Long Beach into Night : 3

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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

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ORANGE BEACH, Ala.

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Boom operations in Cotton Bayou and Bayou Saint John. The white boom is called sorbent boom and is dragged behind the boats with pompoms attached that collect any surface oil. The different colors of boom are for different types of water, and use, but every boom has universal attachments so they can be linked without problems, regardless of manufacturer.  Vehicles of Opportunity drag boom back and forth across the inlets to different areas to prevent as much contamination into the bayous and harbors as possible. The brown discoloration in the water is not oil but tannins which are eaten by the local fish and important to the habitat.

Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency


BP oil disaster swallows beaches in Mississippi

©2010 Jenn LeBlanc

By Noelle Leavitt

LONG BEACH, Miss. Paris Williams, 13 months, plays on the beach surrounded by globs of mousse tar balls on the sand and floating just below the surface of the water. All the dark brown spots visible on the sad are oil mousse. The girl picked up some of the mousse, and it stuck to the skin on her hand, wrist and around her mouth, and her grandmother couldn’t wash it off.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency.

Oily waters slowly crept onto the shore July 7, at Long Beach — near Gulfport and Biloxi, MS — where swimmers tried to enjoy the bright and sunny day despite the gloomy truth about the BP oil disaster.

Globs of oil muck started flowing onto the beach around 3 p.m., and by nightfall large sheets of oil slick started to swallow the white-sandy shore where thousands of visitors flock each year.

Ann Myers and her young granddaughter, Paris Williams, 1, waded in the water, only to find tar balls and glossy-oil mousse at their feet.

“I hate it. I think it’s just awful,” Myers said. “Because we always enjoyed coming here, and the grand babies can’t get out and play like they normally do.”

The little girl had oil smeared on her hands and neck from the contaminated water.

“She just picked up an oil ball. It was floating around in the water,” Myers said of her granddaughter.

The oily waters were deceiving to the eye, as many couldn’t decipher if the water was safe for swimming.

“It’s hard to see in the water,” said Greg May, Gulfport resident. “It’s really easy to see on the beach, though.”

Despite the obvious pollution, he still took a dip in the gulf.

“We’re going straight home to shower,” he said, adding that it’s really difficult not to get into the water despite the oil, because he loves the beach.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality had yet to close the foul waters from public use.

The scene was much worse around 9 p.m., when the oil slick nearly tripled in size, prompting local officials to increase the number of clean up crews on the shore.

Government officials also increased the clean up hours to a 24-hour cycle.

LONG BEACH, Miss. Ann Myers, and granddaughter Paris Williams, 13 months, play on the beach surrounded by globs of mousse tar balls on the sand and floating just below the surface of the water. The girl picked up some of the mousse, and it stuck to the skin on her hand, wrist and around her mouth, Myers couldn’t wash it off. Not far beyond where they played on the beach dozens of clean up workers in tyvek safety suits filled bags with the same oil mousse found where the child played.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency.
LONG BEACH, Miss. Ann Myers, and granddaughter Paris Williams, 13 months, play on the beach surrounded by globs of mousse tar balls on the sand and floating just below the surface of the water. Not far beyond where they played on the beach dozens of clean up workers in tyvek safety suits filled bags with the same oil mousse found where the child played.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency.

Workers clean the beach in Long Beach, Mississippi July 7, 2010. Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency

A heron fishes in Long Beach, Mississippi. Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency

A hermit crab sits on the beach drawn mostly into his shell. Dozens of these crabs littered the waters edge, surrounded by globs of mousse. Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency


Louisiana’s Grand Isle goes through the oil ringer

By Noelle Leavitt

Reporter Noelle Leavitt handles mousse July 6, 2010 at Grand Isle Beach. Mousse is characterized as brown, red or orange in color with a pudding-like sticky consistency by Deepwater Horizon Response. Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency

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.

A sign just outside Grand Isle shows the discontent businessman Wesley Bland has about the BP oil spill. After speaking with Bland, his disappointment with the handling of the incident over the last 78 days has shifted from BP to the U.S. Government.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency
The beach is closed July 6, 2010 near zone 10 of Grand Isle Beach.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency
The plastic barrier to prevent unauthorized persons from entering the contaminated beach is about 60 feet before the large inflated black and orange boom that demarkates the hot zone seen here July 6, 2010 near zone ten of Grand Isle Beach. The surf at zone ten is much darker in color the crest of the waves a dark brown in color. The beach is closed and there are plastic net fences set up to keep all unauthorized personnel away from the inflatable containment barrier which demarkates the hot zone. Nobody is allowed in the hot zone without the appropriate hazmat gear and equipment including facemasks and tyvek suits where the oil is the worst. There are “decon” crews whose primary job is to make sure none of the oil and chemical contaminants pass the barrier of the hot zone, cleaning the crews who clean the beach. They are the last defense between the oil and the public.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency
A laughing gull stands on the Grand Isle beach surrounded by blobs of oil mousse. Mousse is characterized as brown, rust or orange in color with a pudding-like sticky consistency by Deepwater Horizon Response.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency

A dark brown tide is seen July 6, 2010 near zone ten of Grand Isle Beach. The surf at zone ten is much darker in color than the surf at zone five, the crest of the waves a dark brown in color.
Photo by: Jenn LeBlanc/Iris Photo Agency

Louisiana tattoo parlor expresses frustration through art

By Noelle Leavitt

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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.

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