Coast Guard Tells Louisiana Residents Oil Spill is not an Environmental Disaster

Saturday, May 29, 2010
By Paul Martin

Two days before the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced that the Deepwater Horizon accident had easily eclipsed the Exxon Valdez disaster as the nation’s worst-ever oil spill, U.S. Coast Guard representative Edward Stanton downplayed the seriousness of the matter at a town hall meeting in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.

“I don’t consider this an environmental disaster,” Stanton told an audience of concerned fishermen and local residents. “But it is an economic disaster.”

Stanton’s remarks did not sit well with those listening. Attendees wanted to know why the U.S. government wasn’t being more active to stem the hemorrhaging of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. They also questioned federal officials’ reluctance to challenge BP, operator of the oil platform, and its attempts to break up the oil using toxic chemicals.

“Where the heck does that even come from in the United States that corporations are going to dictate to the government what they’re not going to do and what they will do?” asked fisherman Mike Frenette, regarding the government’s decision to continue allowing BP to use dispersants banned in the United Kingdom.

The USGS estimates between 18 million and 39 million gallons of oil have been discharged into the ocean. The Exxon Valdez spill was 11 million gallons.
-Noel Brinkerhoff

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