Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Skimmers Are AWOL, But UnSkilled Workers Are Plentiful

It is hard to believe that this oil spill in the Gulf is still continuing, over 70 days later. And, it is hard to believe how much this situation has been mismanaged by both BP and the US Government. Sadly, that is the case on both counts.

For instance, BP continues to act stupidly by not utilizing fishers from the Gulf area to assist in cleaning up the area, as this article by Matthew Boyle highlights, Local Fishermen Watch As Clueless Out-Of-Staters Take On Cleanup Duties:
Local out-of-work fishermen around the Gulf of Mexico are fuming at the Unified Command Center and BP after hundreds of people from other parts of the country have showed up for work along the Gulf Coast with their boats.

Bob Zales, president of the National Association of Charterboat Operators, said that those people from out of the area are taking jobs away from the fishermen and others directly affected by the spill. They’re doing it, Zales said, by getting hired onto BP’s subcontractors’ workforces.

Companies BP subcontracted to handle cleanup operations include SWS Eagle, Parsons and PEC Premier.

Zales said things would be better if the workers were experts on the handling these kinds of issues or at least knew the area.

“These so-called professionals they’re bringing in from out of state don’t have a clue how to set up boom,” Zales said. “They’re just here making money. But we’ve got people begging for work.”

Zales said the subcontractors should kick out the workers from other parts of the country and hire the local fishermen who know the area and how to do the work correctly.

“These are companies that are allegedly experts on environmental issues,” Zales said. “But, I can tell you, that from what I’ve seen, they don’t know what they’re doing. If this wasn’t so serious, it would be a good comedy.”

Yes, indeed, they should use the fishers and boat captains from the area who know the area, know how to set up booms, and have a sense of urgency about the work they are doing. Since the effect of this spill is already catastrophic, it seems to me they would want to use people who were knowledgeable about the area, and knew what the hell they were doing.

Oh, and one last tidbit from this article:
In Panama City, Fla., SWS Eagle employed at least 11 illegal immigrants, all of whom were arrested by law enforcement officials in Bay County. The officials expect that many more illegal aliens are working on cleanup sites.

“Thirty people didn’t show up for the next shift,” Ruth Corley, Bay County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, said. “We had received several tips that BP had employed illegal aliens. It turned out it was a subcontractor situation.”

Yes, this would be laughable if it wasn't so serious, on a number of levels. What the hell is the matter with these people?? Sheesh. Click Local Fishermen Watch As Clueless Out-Of-Staters Take On Cleanup Duties">HERE to read the rest of this informative, and disturbing, article.

And then there is the Federal Government's mishandling of the spill. We know they stopped the sand berms from being built in Louisiana, which is bad enough. But there is another factor that is as egregious as they come, and that is the lack of oil skimmers being pressed into service, as this article by Karen Nelson highlights,
No Skimmers In Sight As Oil Floods Into Mississippi Waters:
A morning flight over the Mississippi Sound showed long, wide ribbons of orange-colored oil for as far as the eye could see and acres of both heavy and light sheen moving into the Sound between the barrier islands. What was missing was any sign of skimming operations from Horn Island to Pass Christian.

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor got off the flight angry.

"It’s criminal what’s going on out there," Taylor said minutes later. "This doesn’t have to happen.”

A scientist onboard, Mike Carron with the Northern Gulf Institute, said with this scenario, there will be oil on the beaches of the mainland.

“There’s oil in the Sound and there was no skimming,” Carron said. “No coordinated effort.”


“They’re paying all these boats to run around like headless chickens,” Taylor said, as reporters gathered to hear his assessment of the Sound.

Great. Sounds like there is poor oversight and coordination of resources available to do the job that is needed to be done to keep the oil from reaching the mainland: [...]
Horn Island was doing its part Saturday, observers pointed out. The wiggly lines of sheen were coming straight at it from the south, headed for the island’s southern beaches. The island had boom in place to protect the inlets and sensitive wetlands along its northern shore, the side that faces the mainland.

Even the Pascagoula River was doing its part.

Carron pointed out the line where the river’s fresh water met the Sound’s salt water near Horn Island. All along the line was the orange oil caught between the two types of water and held at bay.

But where the failure came was in the human effort.

And that is the part that is most critical at this juncture, the human part. Rep. Taylor's frustration was evident: [...]
Taylor slipped a note to a fellow passenger.

It said: “I’m having a Katrina flashback. I haven’t seen this much stupidity, wasted effort, money and wasted resources, since then.”

Back on land in Gulfport, Taylor let loose.

“A lot of people are getting paid to say, ‘Look! There’s oil’ and not doing anything about it,” Taylor said. “There shouldn’t be a drop of oil in the Sound. There are enough boats running around.

“Nobody’s in charge,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s in charge, so no one’s in charge.

“If the president can’t find anyone who can do this job,” he said, “let me do it.”

Give the man the job, then. If he is willing and able to oversee the clean-up in the Gulf, and he clearly has a vested interest in it, give it to him already. Heaven knows he could scarcely do worse than what we are seeing now.

There is more in this article, and you can click here to read it all, but I think the following sums up the entire problem:
Taylor and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., took the morning flight on a National Guard helicopter with representatives of the state DEQ and BP.

After the flight Wicker said he feels it’s not too late for President Barack Obama to accept help from other countries that have offered the services of their large oil-skimming boats.

Wicker blamed bureaucracy and the president, but said, “Mississippi has been a champ from the beginning of this.”

He also said he noticed BP has been slow to accept prevention plans from local governments. [...]

Like I said at the beginning, it is a failure on the part of the two parties who need to get this right, BP and the Government. Now is not the time to be wasting money, bringing in people who haven't a clue what to do, or letting skimmers sit idly by. Now is the time for cohesive, coherent action, by all the parties involved.

There are people who have plans available, like Taylor, to get the job done. There are fishers out of work for the time being due to the spill who could be working to contain and clean up the spill. A little common sense would go a long way here. If the people overseeing this project are failing at it, replace them immediately with those who can. Send the skimmers, use planes to spot for the boats (as the article above suggests), do anything and everything to contain and clean up this spill before it contaminates more beaches.

Time is of the essence, especially with Tropical Storm Alex bearing down. Time is of the essence....


me414 said...

I feel so bad for the fishermen and those who are going to suffer because of this needless disaster. BP took shortcuts and it cost the lives of good hard-working men whose families will carry this heartache in their hearts for the rest of their lives. Losing a loved one to illness or even accident is one thing, but when there's negligence involved, it makes it even more tragic.

Now we have our government sitting on their collective behinds and caring more about who to blame instead of doing all they can to help. Their political careers mean more to them than the livelihood of of the people in Louisiana...not to mention the irreversible damage done to the coastline and wildlife.

But hey...at least the illegal aliens will have work, right?

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

I know - it breaks my heart for them, too. Isn't it astonishing that the Gov't gave BP a big Safety Award 2 weeks before this disaster? No doubt, they took shortcuts, but the gov't also did not do the inspections they were suppsoed to do, and gave them waivers rather than require them to do things the right way. Just astonishing.

And right now, sitting off of VA, is a skimmer capable of skimming 500,000 gallons a DAY (there was a link for it in the post). It is from Taiwan, and is waiting to be allowed to go help. It is 10 stories tall, 3 1/2 football fields long, and it is just SITTING there.


This just makes me nuts, ME. Such stupidity, such needless waste and destruction. So many lives ruined (people and marine life)...

Great comment - thank you!