The second memorial of the nation’s worst oil catastrophe has come and gone, forever linked to Earth Day and seared into the psyches of millions of Gulf residents and fishermen. In recent weeks, the media has unleashed a torrent of stories about the devastating impacts of the nation’s worst oil spill disaster; deaths, disease and deformities in the fisheries; a two-year record-setting die off in dolphin populations; medical emergencies and family health crises in coastal communities; and ongoing Congressional wrangling over tens of millions of dollars in fines needed to save and rebuild the rapidly disappearing Gulf coast.
But it won’t be long before these stories fade from the consciousness of a nation once riveted by the volcanic well spewing out Louisiana crude a mile below the sea. Instead we will see more stories like this one BP published in the Alabama Press-Register last week: "After Two Years, The Grandeur of the Gulf Is Returning."
"These days, we don’t see oily sheens and miles of orange containment boom; we see sparkling water and clean sand, dotted with deck chairs and beach towels. On the horizon, we don’t see an armada of ships skimming oil; we see fishing vessels at work gathering the day’s catch. And, in the skies and on the ground, we don’t see planes and large cleanup crews; we see birds and other wildlife at play.
"But one thing is clear: Many of the dire predictions for the Gulf, made in the days and weeks after the accident, have not turned out to be true. Indeed, after two years of hard work alongside local, state and federal officials, the scientific community and the people of the region, substantial progress has been made. And the grandeur of the Gulf is steadily returning."
You can expect the media and the airwaves to be clogged with happy talk about the Gulf in the months ahead. We all wish it were true, but the facts — and perceptions of those toiling in the fisheries — just don't support it. After reading BP’s latest polemic, veteran Alaska marine toxicologist and author Riki Ott remembered Exxon's tactics after the Valdez disaster in an email this week;