After four major fish kills in the area of Plaquemines Parish, state officials are finally caving in and conducting real testing. But only after, according to one Parish official, “millions of fish, absolutely, millions” have died in a relatively narrow window of time.
According to a WWL-TV report out of Louisiana, the huge kills are coming in four areas that were hit by the BP oil spill. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries visited the fish-kill areas, but blamed the massive mortality on low oxygen levels in the water, noting that kills in the Gulf are not uncommon this time of year. However, some scientists are not reassured by that assessment.
“We’re used to seeing fish kills out here at this time of year, but not at this number, mass number of fish that are dying, and not in the frequency that they are occurring now,” said P.J. Hahn, Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Management director.
Yet, despite the troubling situation, the Department did not conduct ANY testing. None. And how’s this for following the official “disaster is over” script (as captured by WWL-TV): “For the lay person it’s alarming, the pictures are dramatic. But in the reality of the habitat and the food chain and everything that’s out there in the system, it’s not a significant kill,” said Randy Pausina, head of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
It seems the only reason testing has been scheduled at all is due to public relations concerns. According to WWL-TV: “Within 30 minutes of our interview, a spokesperson for Wildlife and Fisheries contacted Eyewitness News, saying they would now in fact be testing the fish from the fish kill in Bayou Robinson.” That’s certainly a step in the right direction, but the next concern is: Are we really supposed to believe these tests will be rigorous?
Once again, we see a pattern: State and federal government agencies and related “official” sources giving the all-clear while Gulf fishermen, residents, independent scientists and some brave local officials who have to live with this mess are clamoring for more cleanup and testing. Go figure.
See the dramatic TV report here: http://www.wwltv.com/news/local/State-officials-to-test-latest-fish-kill-for-oil-103484999.html
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