Fish gasping for oxygen flapped helplessly around George Arnesen’s shrimp boat off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana. Arnesen said he’d never seen anything like it in his 15 years working on the Gulf.
“It’s real emotional for me being a commercial fisherman knowing that my livelihood, way of life altogether, is in great danger of being destroyed,” Arnesen said. “A whole industry is in danger of being destroyed.”
Arnesen dipped a large bucket into the water. When he pulled it back into his boat, the bucket was filled with thick, black sludge.
Echoing the sentiments of other fishermen, Arnesen complained about a lack of adequate protective measures along the coast.
“We just rode the whole beach and there’s no boom,” he said. “There’s no absorbent. They’re not out there trying to close off any of the gaps. We’ve seen one spot that had some sand bags in it.”
In addition to the effects of the oil, federal regulators had raised concerns about potential hazards associated with the record quantities of chemical dispersant BP has been using to break down the oil near the site of the spill. The Environmental Protection Agency issued a directive instructing BP to seek less toxic alternatives.
But BP officials said some of the other chemical dispersants are not available in the amounts they need, or haven’t been fully tested for effectiveness in the type of setting of this deep water spill.
In a letter to the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard, Douglas Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production writes:
“Based on the information that is available today, BP continues to believe that COREXIT was the best and most appropriate choice at the time when the incident occurred, and that COREXIT remains the best option for subsea application.”
BP has applied a total of 715 thousand gallons of dispersant on the Gulf oil spill, including 85 thousand gallons underwater.
Today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson returns to Louisiana to monitor the response to the oil spill. This marks Jackson’s third visit to the region since the oil spill in the Gulf began just over one month ago.