PHOTOS: Fishermen find dispersant mixed with oil on Mississippi shrimping and oyster grounds
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8/13 update: I just finished a video from this trip. Check it out here.
Angered by claims from state and federal officials that Gulf Coast waters are safe and clean, fishermen took their own samples of the waters off of Pass Christian, Mississippi today. I had the opportunity to go along and see first hand the results, as well as the thin, oily sheen and bubbles caused by dispersant that streak the Mississippi sound.
The testing method is simple: tie an absorbent rag to a weighted hook, then drop it overboard for a minute or two. In all but one of the samples, the rags came up with brown oily substance which the fishermen identify as a mix of crude oil from the BP disaster and toxic dispersants.
The samples were all taken in water that is now open for shrimping. We also took samples directly over Mississippi's oysterbed, which will likely open on schedule sometime in September. The first sample, and one of the dirtiest, came less than half a mile out from Pass Christian harbor, with white sandy beaches as the backdrop.
The 60-foot shrimping boat Capt Quinntinn belongs to fisherman James "Catfish" Miller, who in the past few days has been an outspoken advocate for himself and his fellow Gulf Coast fishermen (see previous posts here and here about how these fishermen are organizing and speaking out).
Fishermen "Blue", Danny Ross Jr., Mark Stewart, and Ricky Robin also came along for the ride, along with scientist Ed Cake of Gulf Environmental Associates who will analyze the samples, a filmmaker working with Dr. Riki Ott named Gary Burris, and me.
Tonight Catfish brought the samples to a community meeting in nearby D'Iberville, to show the assembled fishermen and families. During the meeting, the fishermen unanimously supported a petition calling for the firing of Dr. Bill Walker, who is responsible for opening the fishing grounds as head of the Department of Marine Resources in Mississippi.
I'll be posting videos from the trip and the meeting on Bridge the Gulf shortly, stay tuned.