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Friday, January 13, 2012

BP Promotes Tourism In The Gulf Of Mexico

Oil giant BP is now promoting tourism in the Gulf of Mexico. The company’s national advertising campaign says the gulf is a great vacation spot — despite the 2010 oil disaster.

Their new ad says “the Gulf is America’s getaway spot — no matter where you go. So come on down and make 2012 an even better year for tourism on the Gulf.”

BP has paid out $6.3 billion to almost 200,000 claimants harmed by the disaster. It has also set aside more than $1 billion to restore the gulf ecosystem. Yet environmental writer David Gessner says more needs to be done and he questions whether the Gulf will ever fully recover.

Media Coverage Falls ‘Off A Cliff’

He says initially almost half of CNN’s coverage was on the Gulf, but that “fell off a cliff” once BP’s spewing well was capped.

“We’ve got kind of national ADD. We were so focused on the Gulf, now we’ve completely forgotten it,” he told Here & Now‘s Deb Becker.

Long Term Impact Of Oil

Gessner says that early on, there were real fears that all the marshes would be covered in oil, that there would be, in his words, an “Exxon-Valdez that was from Texas to Florida.”

“That did not come to pass. But because the giant obvious disaster didn’t occur doesn’t mean a subtler disaster won’t occur,” he said.

Gessner recently returned to the Gulf and he found tar balls still washing up on the beach after a storm, and he says the long-term impact of the widely used dispersants, which sink the oil, is unknown.


  • David Gessner, environmental writer who teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He’s the author of “The Tar Ball Chronicles : A Journey Beyond the Oiled Pelican and Into the Heart of The Gulf Oil Spill.”

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  • http://twitter.com/SeasideOil Hope

    I live on the Gulf and have been researching this disaster. The Tampa Bay Online made a good point a few months ago, which was, “tar balls tell the real story” of this disaster. If you look on the Florida DEP website, there’s been tons of oil removed from panhandle beaches during the past few months. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/updates.htm  Do note that crews were off several weeks during the holidays so retrieval amounts have plummeted. Add to that, officials have reduced the size of the response teams and frequency of their beach assessments, so of course the amount of oil will be reduced as well. Simple math there. Even more troubling is what are the lingering effects this oil might be having on our environment? What of the birds who forage along these white beaches? What of the fish, mollusks, and other organisms who are dealing with this chronic oil? What is being done to monitor the chronic exposure or bioaccumulation of persistent oil and dispersant molecules in marine life? More importantly, what of the children and pregnant Mom’s? Have there been thresholds created to protect the health of citizens? Have agencies determined what the PAH’s in the crude oil and dispersant might be doing to chromosomes, skin, and lungs? What did the sun do to these chemicals through phototoxicity? Dermal irritation, skin infections and lesions appear to be a  common complaint for many along the Gulf coast and respiratory issues have risen.The fact remains that BP oil is washing ashore, esp. after high wind events and storms. Due to changes in currents in the winter, upwellings occur which agitate those buried tarmats and bring continued contamination to our beaches. Due to the high winds, this oil material is then buried. What of the plumes of oil? Are they being driven to our beaches?There is still evidence of continued oil seeping from regions near the BP disaster site. Reports have mentioned vessels located in that region for months now, assessing damage and potential issues. At this point, researchers and scientists independent from BP and NOAA should be allowed to bring in sonar and ROV equipment to ascertain what is happening from the damage from the DWH explosion and subsequent impact of this to the seafloor.  Why? “A defining characteristic of science is open sharing of scientific data, theories and procedures so that independent parties & especially skeptics of particular theory or hypothesis, can replicate and validate asserted experiments or observations.”It’s time BP and our government allow researchers access to this entire block to ascertain the continued impact this disaster is having in that region. After all, on June 15, 2010, in a speech from the Oval Office- “Obama also vowed to do whatever was necessary to help the people of the southern US coast recover from the disaster.”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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