Bird’s Eye View: You’ve Got To See This

Yesterday’s monitoring trip took me down to an isolated area on the eastern edge of Bay Ronquille on Louisiana’s coast. Bay Ronquille is to the southeast of Barataria Bay. I went to this area after being informed by a source that there are stretches of beach near Ronquille that are “completely covered in oil “and “untouched “by any clean-up crew. Our journey began in Myrtle Grove, LA aboard a boat with Captain Zach Mouton. On board this day was Jo Billups, GRN sponsor and member of the band Sassafrass, Randy Perez, a videographer from New Orleans, and my brother Jason Henderson, a Geography Professor visiting from San Francisco.My source was correct in that there are miles long stretches of beach that are caked with huge mats of oil. There are enormous mats of tar that stretch from the shore to the water. In some spots, the tide covers the mats as it washes in only to reveal them as it washes back out. In other areas, the mats are so huge that they stretch from the sea bed all the way to the beach. It’s impossible to tell how far out underwater they stretch. There are areas where you think you are standing on sand or mud only to realize that you are standing on huge blankets of weathered oil. There are tidal pools in the middle of the island that are filled with oil. The smell of oil is everywhere. Skulls and bones from dead birds and fish litter the sand and coyote tracks are all around. What a pity. Whether BP has sent anyone to attempt to clean this area anytime in that last few months was hard to discern just by looking at the sand and soil. There were no usual tell-tell signs like tire tracks from four wheelers or left behind plastic bags., water bottles, and gloves. BP is aware of the area because as soon as we got onto the beach, a boat carrying BP workers saw us and sent someone to chase after us. Having been through this song and dance so many times with BP “supervisors” , I decided to let my brother run interference while I foraged ahead to document the disaster. According to Jason, the BP contractor was cordial but did ask a lot of questions about who we were and what we were doing. The man explained that BP will be cleaning this area starting complete with heavy equipment and all. I am planning another trip next week to see if his claim is accurate. I’ve heard it all before.By the way, on the way down to Bay Ronquille, we made a pass through Bay Jimmy. While the marsh is still covered in oil, there was not one clean up worker to be found anywhere in the Bay. That’s funny considering I know of thousands of struggling out of work Gulf coast residents that would love a job cleaning up BP’s mess.Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN

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