Today NPR, in reporting on the top news story of the day, the Gulf oil leak disaster, was once again lacking in insight and relevance. In so doing, they failed to perform one of the basic functions of journalism in our culture: to inform the public on dangerous industry practices, and to bring public pressure to bear on BP for its fraud, its lies and its wanton disregard for the health and welfare of its employees and contractors — indeed, its wanton disregard for life itself, whether human, animal or plant.
In particular, my complaint is in regard to the NPR report about today’s recall by the Coast Guard of the hundred plus boats operating as constractors to help with the oil clean up, by placing booms, removing oil from the water, etc. They were called in because of reports of nausea, eye and lung irritation and other symptoms; and there the NPR report stopped — end of story.
However, that is not the end of the story; it should have been the beginning of the *real* story: BP’s subtle strategy to escape legal liability. All the words spoken in the media matter not: what counts to BP, and what should count to the American public outraged over this issue, are the words that will matter in court. If you are concerned about this issue, you should be following how the court cases will emerge, and what BP’s legal strategy is.
At central issue in that legal strategy should be the deliberate denial by BP of the use of protective gear by these innocent contractors. BP is not allowing these contractors to use respirators, even though some of them have been advised to so by other authorities helping in the cleanup. Let me repeat that: BP is not allowing these contractors to use respirators, in conditions which are making them seriously ill. Why? Well, that is the question the NPR reporter should have posed to someone at BP. Then we could have had the opportunity to watch another corporate PR person from BP dance around the question and not admit to the gigantic elephant in the room: that BP needs to be held liable for all damages stemming from this disaster, and should be made to fully pay for all the damage it has caused. But BP will seek to evade all the liability they can. Let me repeat that: mark my words, they will seek to evade all the liability they can. Is this not obvious? It’s how Exxon acted in the aftermath of the Valdez disaster, and we can confidently expect that BP will act the same.
But back to our original question: why would BP prevent its contractors from wearing respirators? Because this would amount to their acknowledging that the contractors are operating in a toxic environment which BP caused, which would amount to admitting that they have liability for these damages. Rather than admit the obvious, this corrupt corporation willingly sacrifices the health of their contractors on the alter of denial. Put another way: they don’t give a damn about the health of these innocent contractors, who are serving as mere pawns in their game.
In contrast, Amy Goodman on Democracy Now on the morning of Thursday, May 27 interviewed Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, who was working directly with these contractors, trying to get them protective gear to operate in this toxic environment. He had direct experience of these contractors, and was told that they could not use the respirators, for the reasons stated above. (Check out his interview at democracynow.org)
This despicable behavior by BP needs to publicly criticized until they admit the motives for their behavior, and accept full liability for the worst environmental disaster in human history.