As the BP deepwater drilling disaster stretches into its second month, the wildlife impacts are mounting. The official totals (likely significantly lower than reality) are bad, with over 1,000 dead seabirds, over 400 dead sea turtles, and over 50 dead marine mammals so far. The first dead sperm whale has been found, and Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathem has documented many more marine mammals in jeopardy in his latest video.
As bad as this is, it's even worse to think that not all the wildlife impacts are from the oil, and more and more reports are coming in demonstrating BP's contractors doing more harm than good.
On June 13th, charterboat captain Mike Ellis was interviewed and described the inability of his wildlife rescue team (paid by BP) to communicate with BP's burn team to ensure sea turtle habitat was cleared before it was burnt. In a heartbreaking story, Mike details how his team had been combing the weed line, or sargassum seaweed, to find oiled juvenile kemp's ridley sea turtles, the most endangered sea turtle species in the Gulf. Despite their success in locating many turtles by searching the oiled sargassum, they weren't able to stop the burn team from gathering and burning sargassum before they had a chance to scour it for survivors. What's wrong with BP's command and control structure if this simple step can't be taken?
On June 16th, CNN reported that BP contractors had been seen trampling brown pelican nests on Queen Bess Island, near Grand Isle. In our recent trip to the area, we documented that workers have left behind mountains of trash on the rookery. Even more disturbing, the pelicans are now using the bags of what appear to be oiled boom as part of the habitat.
The American Birding Association's conservation coordinator Drew Wheelan broke another story about cleanup efforts running headlong into wildlife habitat, with documentation of destroyed least turn nests, eggs, and chicks, run over by ATV's used by cleanup workers.
This is simply a few more examples of why we're continuing to urge a complete federalization of this clean up effort, with BP removed from the command structure completely, and contractors under the direct supervision of a military entity with a history of winning wars, because right now, it's clear the oil is winning.
Aaron Viles is GRN's campaign director.