Gulf resident and fisherman’s wife Kindra Arnesen took advantage of the offer extended to her to visit cleanup sites and staff meetings:
At any rate, I was invited the following week to go behind “enemy lines.” They gave me, of all people, security clearance to go into the base of operations meetings in Venice, Louisiana eight days in. Open door invitation to sit like a fly on the wall. Can you believe it? It’s really going on. They also gave me security clearance to go up to the Homer Incident Command Post which is over the entire region of Louisiana. I’ve been in Coast Guard planes all the way out to the site itself. Helicopters. Boat rides. I have been everywhere that anybody could ever want to go to get an inside look at what’s really going on.
Arensen appears to have been invited in because she got media coverage earlier in June when CNN covered her efforts to organize wives of Gulf fisherman over concerns about the safety of working on oil cleanup:
Arnesen believes it was vapors from the oil and the dispersants from the BP Gulf oil disaster that made her husband and the other shrimpers sick. She says they were downwind of it, and the smell was “so strong they could almost taste it.”
For several weeks, she hesitated to talk publicly about it. Like many fishermen who can no longer fish in the Gulf, her husband has signed a contract to work with BP to clean up the oil, and she doesn’t want to bite the hand that puts food on her family’s table.
But now Arnesen, a 32-year-old “uneducated housewife” — her words — is breaking her silence and is encouraging others in her community do the same. After attending a lecture by Rikki Ott, a toxicologist who’s worked with families affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Arnesen decided to organize other wives to ask questions about the safety of working near the oil.
Apparently embedding is more successful with journalists than with people who have a stake in the events they are witnessing. Her report indicates (transcript via Suburban Guerilla, courtesy Democratic Underground):
1. BP is playing down concerns over the safety of exposure to oil and chemical fumes, and attributing ailments and symptoms to causes that strain credulity. In addition, it is, as we reported earlier, making it well nigh impossible for responders to obtain respirators (the method is bureaucratic impediments: they not only need to prepare an OSHA form, but need an evaluation by “a medical professional”. Pray tell, how many people have the time and money to do that? (The detail of the interview indicates a Catch 22 in action). And again as reported here, BP is refusing to employ workers who bring their own respirators, even those OSHA rules workers to provide them.
2. Cleanup measures are far less aggressive than depicted to the media and visiting politicians:
So basically, this whole “ponies and balloons” act — if someone does not come in and properly oversee this response — our marsh now is being used as a boom. an overworked (?) boom, a big, giant sponge. It’s on both sides of us. It will fill up, it is filling up, constantly. We have heavy, heavy crude penetrating our marsh right now as we speak. They deploy , and then they pull ‘em back in when the politicians leave and this is not acceptable!
They’re not cleaning it up; they’re covering it up! This is, we’re barely into this. This could go on for years and years and they are already cutting costs! Cutting costs, cutting corners, taking shortcuts is why we are all sittin’ in this room today.
Enough is enough!
Now, as far as EPA, OSHA, NOAA, BP, and the federal government , they every one of them’s in collaboration with each other. That comes from someone at the top of NOAA. That’s who I’ve been talking to. They gave me someone at the top of NOAA. But, they’re all in collaboration with BP.
Please watch this video (hat tip Lambert Strether and Frank A):
Update 6:40 PM. Wow, talk about censorship! If you click on the video above, you will see it has been “removed by the user.” Michael Panzner kindly provided a current link per below: