BP Clean Up, Lay-offs and Tar Balls (VIDEO)


GULF SHORES, Alabama – For the last eight months, this has been Erik Weiss’ office. “3:30 this morning I woke up anticipating going to the office,” he says referring to the beach. “At 5:45 I was told my services were no longer needed.”

Along with several local co-workers Weiss was laid off. “Why am I unemployed? Why is somebody from another state doing the job that I did Monday morning?”

Weiss and Robert Lowell had been beach techs, hand cleaning the beaches. “I needed this job,” says Lowell, “unlike some people from out of state working, I needed this job.”

The reason for the lay offs according to Weiss, “the oil is gone, the clean up is in its final phase.”

If BP is doing a reduction in force because they believe the beaches are clean they obviously haven’t been to this section of West Beach where examples of oil are easy to find.

Along with the shells at the tide line, tar balls the size of golf balls. “Yet, I stand here looking at my beach, the one I bring my kids to, my grandkids to and I think it still needs work.”

The parking lot where Weiss had reported to work this morning remains full. Out of state tags are on a lot of the vehicles parked inside the fence. “Hand this off to someone that don’t even live here, make me a burden. You tell me I can’t provide for my family now and give my office, my beach. Shame on you. Shame on all yous.”

More layoffs are expected.

Just before six o’clock this evening WKRG received this response to our request for an interview or statement on the issues in this story.

Gulf Shores, AL – During the Deepwater Horizon MC252 oil spill response, Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams have been patrolling the shorelines and overseeing cleanup operations as part of Operation Deep Clean. After progressing through months of successful daily cleanups, shorelines are now being re-inspected to ensure compliance with Shoreline Treatment Recommendation (STR) standards agreed upon by federal, state and local entities. Where STR benchmarks are met, maintenance and monitoring (M&M) response actions will be recommended as part of the multi-phase recovery and restoration plans that are currently in development.

As a part of BP’s ongoing commitment to have the beaches clean in time for 2011 Spring Break tourism season, BP will begin, where necessary and appropriate, reducing visible manpower and equipment across coastal Alabama. If any residual MC252 oil is found during this phase, procedures are in place to rapidly respond. We continue to work closely with state and federal officials to ensure work is done in a timely manner, while also observing appropriate standards of safety, cleanliness, and environmental sensitivities.

BP is still here and we are committed to working with Gulf Coast communities to complete the response and restoration efforts.

For more information on maintenance and monitoring, please visit: http://www.restorethegulf.gov/sites/default/files/u291/MM_fact%20sheet_final.pdf

See video here: http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/bp-clean-up-lay-offs-and-tar-balls/1204523/Feb-04-2011_6-28-pm/

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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