Waterkeepers Want Feds to Contain Gulf Spill, Step Up Oversight

Waterkeeper Alliance, the global environmental organization, on May 3 demanded transparency in the handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a stepping up of oversight and enforcement of existing regulations, and the addition of new safeguards that would prevent similar spills from occurring.

“The government is right to use all means at their disposal to contain the economic and environmental destruction of this oil spill, but that’s just not enough,” said Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “Acoustic regulator technology, required in European waters, could have capped this well when disaster struck and should be required here. Ultimately, as the damage we’ve done in the Gulf shows, we as a nation must move away from our deadly addiction to oil.”

While the allied Waterkeeper groups endorse the response of the federal government to contain the disaster through mechanical means, they are further demanding:

  • full transparency from all public agencies dealing with the spill and its aftermath so that the public is informed about the extent of the spill, the location of the oil slick, anticipated damage, and possible threats to human health;
  • immediate shut down of all drilling platforms in U.S. coastal waters until the completion of a full safety review of the Deepwater Horizon incident;
  • immediate recission of President Obama’s plan to open more offshore areas to drilling;
  • the full weight of the law be brought against those responsible for what is turning out to be the worst-ever oil spill in U.S. history.

Waterkeeper Alliance’s Gulf Coast groups – Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper and Louisiana Bayoukeeper, Alabama’s Mobile Baykeeper, and Florida’s Emerald Coastkeeper – are interacting with agencies to ensure transparency and to track the drifting oil in their localities.

“Our volunteers and others are working to provide monitoring in all affected areas, but they need the proper safety gear and training that only the federal government can provide,” said Mobile Baykeeper Casi Callaway. “There is also a need for more federal support to protect human health. We are adamantly opposed to dispersants being used at the well-head as we believe it adds more toxins and less value to the clean-up process. Certain dispersants may be useful at the shore/grassbed line, but we can't endorse this action until we know what specific dispersants are to be used!”

“Forty-five thousand feet of deflection boom has been placed in sensitive habitats in our area; already, several booms have had to be repositioned due to wave action. It is obvious to us locals that this method is not going to effectively keep the oil out of our inland waters,” said Chasidy Hobbs, Emerald Coastkeeper. “Local officials have come up with better solutions, yet their plans seem to be falling on deaf ears. No absorbent booms are being used; according to BP officials in this area, they do not plan use them. This method is proven effective. Why isn't the government requiring that BP use these?”

Waterkeeper Alliance is a global environmental organization uniting more than 190 Waterkeeper programs around the world and focusing citizen advocacy on the issues that affect waterways, from pollution to climate change.

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