Press Conference, Speak Out During President Obama’s Visit to New Orleans
President Obama’s visit to New Orleans on the fifth anniversary of Katrina must not pass in silence because the Gulf oil disaster is not over! Join us to demand the truth be told, the Gulf cleaned up, and the people and the environment protected. When Obama travels to New Orleans, we’ll be saying loud and clear: “The oil disaster is not over. The waters are not safe. The full truth must come out.”
The message from the Obama administration and BP is that the crisis is over and the oil is gone. The Aug. 4 report by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) claimed that 74% of the over 200 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf has been captured, burned, dispersed, evaporated, or “dissolved,” and only 26% is left. President Obama stated, “the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end.” While in Panama City, Obama encouraged people to swim in the Gulf, even as tarballs continue to wash up on beaches, and said it was safe to eat Gulf seafood, even as real questions remain about the adequacy of seafood testing. And now an institution with deep ties to BP and the government – the Lawrence Berkeley Livermore Lab – claims that “Microbes Are Mopping Up Oil Spill,” as a Wall Street Journal headline put it (8/24).
This from an administration that allowed BP to drill without environmental review or adequate safety measures; an administration that collaborated with BP to downplay the enormity of this crisis and to prevent independent scientists from having full access, and allowed BP to carpet-bomb the Gulf with toxic dispersants.
It’s current claim that the oil crisis is largly over is aimed at protecting BP and the government, not the environment or the people.
Fishers on the Gulf itself state that “the Gulf of Mexico is still infused with oil and dispersants from the BP disaster, threatening marine life, livelihoods, and the health of the American people…
While President Obama and state officials claim that the Gulf is “open for business,” the spraying of dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico is ongoing and they’re concerned that seafood pulled from impacted waters is unsafe for eating. “We do not believe this crisis is over. We believe that Gulf and inland waters have been prematurely re-opened to fishing. Fishermen do not want to lose our credibility or deliver contaminated seafood to market and make people sick.”
Independent scientists also argue the crisis is not over. Scientists from the University of Florida found that oil from the blown-out BP well has contaminated parts of the Gulf crucial for spawning several fish species. University of Georgia researchers argue that up to 79 percent of the oil released has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem. Authorities in St. Bernard Parish recently found thousands of dead fish at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Meanwhile, BP and the government continue to refuse to adequately fund independent scientists or give them full access to Gulf sites. (See, “A Gulf Science Blackout,” August 24, 2010, New York Times)
This must end. Scientists must be given full access to sites, information gathered, and funding. Testing must be adequate. The Gulf must be cleaned up and restored. Peoples’ health and livelihood must be protected.
WE DEMAND THAT BP AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AT ALL LEVELS:
1. Employ all necessary resources to clean up all the oil and gas, prevent it from hitting shore, treat injured wildlife, protect wildlife and public health, and repair all devastation.
2. Immediately end use of dispersants. Fund all necessary scientific and medical research on human and environmental impact of dispersants. Immediately begin remediation of damage caused by dispersants.
3. Full mobilization, access, and funding of scientists, engineers, and environmentalists, independent of BP and the government, to investigate the oil blowout and its impacts on ecosystems and human health, and to monitor and supervise all aspects of the response to this disaster. Full support – not suppression or punishment – for peoples’ efforts to protect the environment, wildlife, and public health.
4. Complete transparency. Disclosure of all information and documentation, including scientific, medical and technical data, and decision-making concerning every aspect of this disaster. No censorship, gag orders, threats, or punishment, including on anyone employed, hired, contracted, or who volunteers.
5. Immediately survey direct and indirect health impacts of oil blowout and provide all necessary medical services to those affected free of charge. Immediately protect the health of and provide all necessary equipment for all impacted or involved in clean up.
6. Stop oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Full compensation, retraining, and new employment, including major public works programs, for all affected, and for all losing livelihood and income from the disaster.
7. Prosecute those responsible for this crime against the environment and the people