Gulf Emergency Summit
I'm not a speech-giver, so you've gotta bear with me, I'm gonna make this as painless as possible.
To explain to you where I live, I am indeed the one at the very end. I am at .5 on Hwy 23 in South Plaquemines Parish, LA. Keep in mind through what I'm going to say I'm the mother of a 5-yr-old little boy and an 8-yr-old little girl, who look like their daddy.
That being said, when this first happened I really didn't know what to do, who to ask questions to, who was going to give us answers. The first day we were introduced to anyone from BP they came in to our building and said "BP does business right!" Yeah. Can you believe that? "BP does business right, and we're here to take care of everything folks."
Well, 61 days later that's a joke, to say the least. Just to give you guys a perspective on where I've been, 4 weeks ago I stood up in a town hall meeting and I indeed did pin down all involved and I had 'em stuttering by the end of their speech. At any rate, I was invited the following week to go behind "enemy lines". They gave me, of all people, security clearance to go into the base of operations meetings in Venice, LA, 8am, open door invitation to sit like a fly on the wall. Can you believe it? It's really going on. They also gave me security clearance to go into the Houma incident command post, which is over the entire region of Louisiana. I've been in Coast Guard planes all the way out to the site itself, helicopters, boat rides, I have been everywhere anybody could ever want to go to really get an inside look as to what's really going on.
Now I want to start by telling you guys that I am not at all impressed. Someone told me this morning that they thought I had crossed over. Well, I picked a team a long time ago. My father was a commercial fisherman, and my husband was a commercial fisherman. Every man I've ever loved, known and respected is on the water. They are good men.
At any rate, for the past week I've heard in the ops meeting "We need to cut costs." Yes. That's what they said, that they need to cut costs. I almost came out of my chair the first time I heard it, but I'm trying to stay where I am because someone has to be on the inside overlooking and seeing as to what's going on around. That being said, where I've seen cutting costs is quite unfortunate. What we call--in Venice what they call--the first week I didn't understand this phrase: "ponies and balloons". The only place I've ever seen ponies and balloons was at a circus. Right? At any rate, about a week and a half in, I learned what ponies and balloons meant. Ponies and balloons means that every time an official is headed anywhere near here, they'd get a heads-up. All assets are deployed into the harvested areas. The official comes in, flies over, "Good job fellas!", pats 'em on the back. When the official disappears out of the harvested area, so does 75-80% of the response. It's happening. It's happening every day. I'm watching it. I'm seeing it. I don't agree with it. Anyone in this room is not going to agree with it, and our great nation's not gonna agree with it. We are expendable to these people. We do not matter.
Now, I'm gonna get all-- I'm sorry, I talk in circles, but that's the coonass in me, if y'all don't follow me, let me know. At any rate, I'm going to go into the health issues for a moment, if you don't mind. I sat through endless hours of meetings with BP's safety officers. I've sat through an hour and 45 minute meeting with the Coast Guard safety officer, both in the Houma incident command post, as well as a gentleman from OSHA. In order to obtain a respirator for our responders--now this isn't just commercial fishermen--I'm talking about Coast Guard members, all responders, people off the street, everybody involved. Number 1, they have to fill out an OSHA questionnaire. Number 2, they have to have a physical evaluation by a medical professional. But EPA's doing air monitoring. Everything's ok, it's great. Yeah, imagine that. At any rate, there is in fact some act somewhere in OSHA's law that says that volunteers have a right to wear a "volunteer" respirator. But as we all know, BP has taken over our Gulf, BP rules right now, our Gulf, I mean bottom line that's who controls the situation. They couldn't even run their own company and they're in charge of this response. I'm totally appalled.
They can't wear a volunteer respirator, because if they're not properly trained--BP's rules are that they have to be properly trained in order to wear a respirator--and now BP said that they will provide the training, and they will provide the respirator, but everything's ok. So they don't need to be training and they don't need a respirator. And, as far as the right to wear "volunteer" respiration, guess what: if you don't follow BP's rules, you don't have a job. And that's what they told me.
Now, I asked them to discuss the 7 men that were brought, one by helicopter, and 6 by ambulance, I asked if they were at liberty to discuss that with me, and they said "Yes ma'am, we are". I guess these guys didn't realize who they were talking to. Number 1 response, from Mr. Hayward, was food poisoning. Four different boats, all way away from each other, food poisoning. Second response was heat exhaustion. Then last Wednesday--I'm sorry, Wednesday a week ago when I sat with OSHA and BP safety officer--the OSHA man informed me that all four boats took Pine Sol, spread it all over their boats, and then sat and breathed in the fumes all day long and that's what caused the chemical poisoning. Hold on a second, I've been on boats all my life. I've been with captains all over the place. When we spray something on our boat, we wash it right off. If not, it eats the paint off the boat. We take care of ourself. So at any rate that was just a blatant out lie.
So then I asked them, I threw one out of left field at 'em, I said "Well, what about the people on 9/11?" He said "It's funny you asked me about that, because I was working that job. We were following them around with respirators begging them to put them on." And he actually pointed the finger at our New York firefighters. Yeah, he did. People who are dying a slow death as we sit in this room right now, from chemical poisoning, pointed the finger at them and said that they turned around and gave him the one-finger salute, and said "We're not wearing a respirator, we're looking for our friends." Trained firefighters? In New York? Are you serious? I wanted to just slap him in the face. But I was good.
At any rate, you know my children have broke out in four rashes. My child broke out in a rash the first time, I took her to Florida for 4 days, it magically cleared up. I brought her back, she broke out again. I left, she cleared up. Now, today, she's broke out again. Now I should mention that my beautiful, healthy, straight-A student, gorgeous daughter has a double ear infection. Upper respiratory problems. I left them in Baton Rouge, and as I drove back home, clearing the throat, the stickiness, upper respiratory irritation.
You know, the bottom line here is, this morning I contacted miss Marla Cooper, the District 9 councilman of Plaquemines Parish, and miss Marla has three grandchildren in our area, and she's just a great grandparent, a good mom, and I told her "Miss Marla, we have got to call for an evacuation of our area. We can not allow our citizens to sit, like we're out in the middle of--" We are--this goes on all three sides of my home. I walk outside and there's a haze. They're called "bad air days". Folks stay inside, put your air conditioning on recirculation, everything's just fine. Well why do we gotta lock ourselves up in our house, do you really think that's gonna cut it? Do you really think that's gonna make the situation better? No it's not! Where do you think the air comes from that's inside the house? Outside the house!
These people, they never cease to amaze me. The lack of humanity here. I know that my parish only makes up 2% of Louisiana's population, but does that make my people expendable? This is unacceptable! They are slowly poisoning every person that I've ever been close to in my entire life, and I'm standing here saying "No more!" Now, if I ruffle some feathers and make some people mad, so be it. I don't care. My people are more important to me than their bottom line. And that is my bottom line.
So, basically, this whole ponies and balloons act. If someone does not come in and properly oversee this response, our marsh now is being used as a boom, an absorbent boom, a big giant sponge. It's on both sides of us. It will fill up--it is filling up, constantly. We have heavy heavy crude entering our marsh all over the place right now, as we speak. They deploy and then they pull 'em back in when the politicians come through. This is not acceptable. They're not cleaning it up! They're covering it up!
We're barely into this. This could go on for years and years, and they're already cutting costs? Cutting costs, cutting corners, and taking shortcuts is why we're all sitting in this room today. Enough is enough!
Now, as far as EPA, OSHA, NOAA, BP, and the federal government they're every one of them is in collaboration with each other. That comes from someone at the top of NOAA. That's the kind of people I've been talking to. That camae from someone at the top of NOAA. That they're all in collaboration with BP. Are you serious!? Who do these people work for? I thought that these were our agencies, to protect our better interests, our world, our earth, our lives. What is going on here?! Are we that dependent on these banks, to just roll over and let them poison our world and our people in it? This is unacceptable. A week after this started they want to say nothing is going on, nothing's dying? A week after this started I traveled 70 miles east of the original site. There was these shells floating all over the top of the water. Hundreds of thousands of them. They were empty because they were dead. I've never seen a shell float in my life. Dead. A week after.
Four weeks ago, when the oil was projected to hit the west side of our peninsula, I was so mad, when I went down to Pass Aloucha(??) and seen what wasn't being done there, that I got in my boat, my dime, my time, and I took a trip. I also had Fox National News on my boat. I traveled from Red Pass, ten mi--to (??)'s about 10 miles the east side of Grand Isle. Now the oil was projected to hit that side of the peninsula that day. 30 miles, I did not run into one responder. I did not run into one piece of boom, hard or soft. 150 ft of sandbags on a 30-mile stretch of shoreline. This is unacceptable. So I decided on the way back, well let me just go out from the coast a little bit and see what's going on. I ran into oil three quarters of a mile off our coast. Not sheen. Crude. As I'm traveling along, back towards Red Pass, I look over the Gulf and I notice that there's big swarms of birds. That's not unusual, I figured they was diving on bait, but why were they diving into the oil sheen? Of course birds don't know any better. We're traveling out towards the birds--I want to see what they were diving into. I want to know. As we get out to the birds--I don't know if you've been on the water much or if you've seen a big school of fish--they have like a boil in the water. It looks like a pot boiling. The fish boil the water, it moves. As we drove into it was big bull rays, with their mouths open on top of the water, laying sideways, swimming upside down in a circle--again, hundreds of thousands of them, school after school after school--they were dying. They were so disoriented that they were running into the side of my boat.
From audience: "Where's the video of this?"
Kindra: That's a real good question! Fox National News swears it's on their web site, but I've searched it up and down, I've even--you know what, I've got the camera man's phone number in my purse right there, we could call him and find out exactly where it's at. I've called them and asked them for it over and over again, and they won't give it to me. You know what, everybody's saying "media blackout, media blackout". Yes ma'am, there is a media blackout. Sydney, Australia, 60 minutes came over and they did a real nice piece. I watched on their web site, the transcript is still there. 24 hours after the video hit the web site, it disappeared.
Kindra: You know, as far as the "fisherman can catch shrimp elsewhere" comment, I want to make something real clear. We have been fighting imports and regulations for the past twenty years. They have regulated us to the point as commercial fishermen, that my husband has seven different permits. The only thing that my husband does not do is oyster. So if there's shrimp somewhere else, or we can use gill net, or whatever we need to use in order to provide a food source for this country, a natural way to feed people, then somebody point me in that direction and let me know what it is, cause I've looked all over the place.
I came back here four and a half years ago and rebuilt from dirt because this is my home and I love Louisiana. I live right out in the middle of nowhere in the boondocks. The bottom line is that if the country does not stand up and say No More!--we must take action. We can not sit back and--if this stuff is not stopped, guys, this is gonna go global. It will destroy one third of the world's water. Bang on. If they do not stop this--very ocean's connected. It will go on and on and on, as my daughter says infinity plus two.
Enough's enough. I'll take your questions after, thank you for listening.
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