What’s Really Happening Down on the Gulf Coast? Gap Between What Local Residents Are Reporting and Accounts from Outside “Experts” Clouds Truth


The Destin Log newspaper out of Florida continues to do a hell of a job covering personal stories relating to the BP spill. In its most recent edition, the Log has a story that clearly illustrates the conflict or gap between reports from locals who know their communities and outside (so-called) experts who bring what we’ll call a “broader view.”

The report begins by talking to a man who’s been living part-time on the Emerald Coast since 1998. According to The Log, the man “has never seen this much seaweed before. While walking the beach and talking to The Log, [Jeff] Howorth stepped into the thick seaweed that spread close to 50-yards across the beach and 10-yards into the water.”

Mr. Howorth also argues that the situation gets worse with large tar balls on the beach and in the water, asserting that “dispersants that were sprayed” caused the normally pliable soft tar to dry up and become almost chalk-like as he crushed it between his fingers. He feels BP is running away from its promise to “make it right” on the Gulf – while the situation continues to get worse.

“They are killing everything out there,” Howorth added. But, the paper notes: “Jane Caffrey, associate professor at The University of West Florida’s Center for environmental diagnostics and bioremediation, begs to differ.” She first says that the seaweed is caused by other man-made environmental problem, before later admitting that without more research it’s hard to know.

The report brought a lot of online discussion, and of course, some have argued that such stories should be censored to help restore confidence in the safety of seafood and to help the local tourism economy. Clearly, aside from the ethical issues, that’s a dangerous short-term solution to a very long-term problem.

See the story, participate in the poll, here http://www.thedestinlog.com/news/everything-15461-boat-seaweed.html

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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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