BP Environmental Disaster: Despite “All Clear,” Mississippi Tests Positive for Oil and Toxic Dispersants
by Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld
August 30, 2010
The State of Mississippi’s Department of Marine Resources (DMR) opened all of its territorial waters to fishing on August 6. This was done in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration, despite concerns from commercial fishermen in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida about the presence of oil and toxic dispersants from the BP oil disaster.
On August 19, Truthout accompanied two commercial fishermen from Mississippi on a trip into the Mississippi Sound in order to test for the presence of submerged oil. Laboratory test results from samples taken on that trip show extremely high concentrations of oil in the Mississippi Sound.
James “Catfish” Miller and Mark Stewart, both lifelong fishermen, have refused to trawl for shrimp because they believe the Mississippi Sound contains submerged oil.
“I can’t tell you how hard it is for me not to be shrimping right now, because I’m a trawler,” Miller told Truthout as he piloted his shrimp boat out of Pass Christian Harbor, “That’s what I do. I trawl.”
But Miller and Stewart have been alarmed by their state’s decision to reopen the waters, and have been conducting their own tests for oil in areas where they have fished for years. Their method was simple – they tied an absorbent pad to a weighted hook, dropped it overboard for a short duration of time, then pulled it up to find the results.