As concerns about the growing devastation the BP oil spill has inflicted on Gulf Cost communities increase, reports have surfaced that BP is blocking members of the press from filming the extent of the damage. A CBS news crew attempted to film a beach in South Pass, Louisiana, obscured by a thick coat of oil, and was barred from doing so by BP contractors and two coast guard officers aboard a boat who threatened to arrest the film crew. When asked why filming along the beach was not permitted they were told, "This is BP's rules, it's not ours."
This is not the first report of such an incident. There have been other reports of camera and video equipment being confiscated or banned. In fact, Lauren Valle, a Greenpeace Volunteer, who was turned away by BP contractors when taking members of the media to the affected areas along the coast stated, "they're trying very hard for people not to see it. We're here to bear witness."
Clearly, BP does not want the public to witness what Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal saw yesterday: the incredibly heavy film of oil that has washed up on the Louisiana shore. After a boat tour of the affected areas along the coast, Jindal stated "the day that we have all been fearing is upon us today. This wasn't tar balls. This wasn't sheen. This is heavy oil in our wetlands. It's already here but we know more is coming."
Recently, BP chief Tony Hayward stated that he anticipated the overall environmental impact of the oil spill to be "very, very modest" amidst reports that the tar balls appearing on the beaches of Louisiana were not related to the oil spill. Those who have witnessed the growing blanket of oil accumulating along the coast cannot agree that the impact of the spill is "modest."
The amount of oil sweeping the coast has caused many to believe that BP has misled the white house, government officials and the public by alleging that only 5,000 barrels of oil a day are leaking from the Deepwater Horizon. In fact, some scientists believe that approximately 25,000 barrels of oil could be leaking a day. Some reports have quoted a number as high as 80, 000 barrels of oil a day. These numbers have prompted Congressman Edward Markey to send a letter to BP asking the question that has been on everyone's mind: "how much oil is leaking into the Gulf and how much oil can be expected to end up on our shores and our ocean environment?"
Given BP's troubling track record and propensity to mislead government officials, it comes as no surprise that they have diminished the far-reaching effects of this environmental disaster.
Perhaps its time for BP to come clean about just what it will take to clean up its mess.
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