Thursday, June 3, 2010

Human Victims of the BP Slick

The human victims of the BP spill

100602 BpT.jpg
Tens of millions of gallons of crude oil, billions of dollars in company money and a criminal investigation into the disaster - but what does the BP oil spill mean for the people living on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico? One of our Observers went to visit the people of Barataria, a community whose economy is exclusively dependant upon the ocean. 
The US has launched a criminal and civil investigation into the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began on 20 April and has not yet been contained. The day after the investigation was announced, BP's share prices plummeted, wiping €14.4 billion off the company's value. Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, the seemingly unstoppable leak continues to wreak havoc upon the eco-system, spelling disaster for the people who populate the coastline.

“The rights of these people have been stolen by British Petroleum"

Environmental activist John Wathen produced this clip, filmed in John Lafitte, Barataria near New Orleans in Louisiana, as part of an assessment he is carrying out of damage called by the oil spill. See his comment below.

Here in Barataria, the waterways are the streets. To go to the store, they take their paddle boat. It's from the water that they make their living and catch food to feed their families. The oil hasn't reached their homes yet, but all of the fisheries around here have shut down.
It's not just that the people here will lose their jobs and be forced to move to a bigger city; they will be forced to give up their way of life and leave a community that they've lived in generation after generation. The right to raise their children here has been stolen by British Petroleum. It's no different from going into the American Indian villages in the days when white people first got here and saying ‘move over!'
This town is named after John Lafitte, the man [thought to be of French origin] who helped to free us from British rule. I think it would be a crying shame and an atrocity to ask people who live in this town to move because a British company came in and decided that their profit was worth more than the quality of life of the people here. History has a way of coming back to bite you in the butt and British Petroleum is going to get bit real hard over this, because the American people are outraged.
This disaster was not prevented because of political affiliations between industry and the government, and there have been a lot of comments on my website from people in Europe saying ‘you Americans need to change your ways'. Perhaps for those Americans who believe that putting profit before humanity is a way of life, this disaster will be the wake-up call they actually take note of."

John Lafitte seen from Google Maps.
John Wathen's picture
  • United States
  • Environmentalist

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