Our Beaches Are Clean? Says Who?


The BP much-hyped promise was to “Make It Right” – but for our beaches, the ongoing reality creates a bit more wiggle room, with the company deciding that “right” means: “[beaches] re-inspected to ensure compliance with Shoreline Treatment Recommendation (STR) standards” and “observing appropriate standards of safety, cleanliness, and environmental sensitivities.”

Who really decides those “STR” and “appropriate sensitivities”? Take a guess.

One place where those decisions are playing out is Gulf Shores, Alabama, where workers on BP beach cleanup teams were laid off yesterday.

Reporter Debbie Williams at WKRG-TV may not have been trained in STR evaluations and appropriate environmental sensitivities, but she knows a dirty beach when she sees one. She notes that “…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.”

So those of us wondering exactly how BP plans to get all the beaches clean for Spring Break, we see the company taking a page from the official seafood “safety” handbook: If you control the “standards,” you can declare mission accomplished (even when it isn’t). I’m betting that’s true when it comes to seafood consumption and when it comes to “appropriate” beach standards.

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

And if you want to see the BP spin on the cleanup, you can visit here: http://www.restorethegulf.gov/sites/default/files/u291/MM_fact%20sheet_final.pdf

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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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