BP takes every wrong turnJun 16th, 2010 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: Editor's Notebook
Last week was full of controversial events.
South Plaquemines football and track coach Cyril Crutchfield was found guilty of using a sexually explicit and vulgar word in a class full of students.
A legislative audit report was released showing Parish President Billy Nungesser violated regulations in regards to FEMA reimbursements from Hurricane Katrina. It should be noted that the official report was not released until Monday morning, after The Plaquemines Gazette’s press deadline.
There was the joy of seeing our hometown heros, the New Orleans Saints, show their support of us, the Plaquemines community during the BP oil spill that could, and probably will, destroy our community’s culture of fishing. Another football related surprise was LSU football coach Les Miles’ visit.
In some ways, these items seem more important than my subject choice for an editorial this week, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about what happened at last week’s council meeting.
Someone said after Katrina, that of all catastrophes, a flood is the worst. You are stuck, having to wait until the water recedes to do anything, knowing that the longer the water stays, the more damage there will be and feeling helpless.
I used to believe that.
Now, I don’t see anything worse than this oil spill. Everyday the news gets worse. Fishermen still out of work. Some oil field employees have now joined the unemployment line. Sea turtle, pelican and dolphin carcasses are washing up on beaches. People are getting sick from the dispersant.
All the while, BP takes every wrong turn.
BP officials, for the first time, made contact with the Plaquemines Parish council at last week’s meeting, and it was to get an emergency permit for constructing the ‘Venice Responders Village,’ a site already under construction.
BP waited until the last minute to approach the council for an emergency permit. Even District 9 representative Marla Cooper only knew what she could see from driving by.
The council’s hand was forced to granting the permit despite none of the permitting protocol being followed. Not granting it would have delayed clean up efforts.
The BP officials also responded to restaurateurs’ concerns that business is drying up.
I find it so insulting that not only has BP destroyed our seafood industry for at least this season, they are now causing more harm to our community by not using restaurants in the affected area.
Food tents have been installed to provide free meals for workers. Now people are out of work, and those who are here for the clean up will be given free meals, a method that does not incorporate local businesses.
BP representative Dr. Robert Bruant, a geologist functioning as a logistic director over land, housing and communications in the area, seemed genuinely sincere in his desire to better the situation.
And that is what bothered me the most I think.
After Katrina, when Plaquemines was flooded with FEMA representatives, responses were slow, information was sometimes hard to come by, and for the parish government, it was a constant struggle to get funding for the destroyed public buildings.
But FEMA was visible.
They attended the council meetings. They went out into the community to reach people.
I never thought FEMA’s shortcomings could ever be outdone, but BP has surpassed both FEMA, and in that case, the Exxon Valdez spill, in damage to the affected community both on and off land.
The community should watch the impending situation in regards to the Venice Responders Village.
The situation with the restaurants will be repeated for all the lodging facilities in southern Plaquemines as soon as the village opens.
Hotels, motels and inns who last year at this time were booked with fishing tourists, are now full of BP employees. When that village opens, BP workers will relocated there. Will this leave Plaquemines motels struggle to get the odd journalist to book.
Who else would be coming?