Let the Readers Decide

So, LilSis and RenRed came down and brought something very special for the Miracle Bayou Tree House (which will be another post altogether) but while they were down, RenRed wanted to drive down where he might see some of the oil spill action, it being such an historic disaster and all.

You know from the previous post that Grand Isle is where we went.  We got the inside scoop from my friend who has been down there reporting for Fox News Network that  all the beaches were closed, barricaded, and guarded to keep the likes of us and our curious minds (nosiness) and cameras O U T !

She did say that we could go to one end of the boardwalk down at the State Park, so that is where we headed.   When we got there . . . .

this is what we found.  If you look closely, the rise in the boardwalk goes just over the sand dune, and just on the other side of that dune was all the hustle and bustle of the cleanup activity.  Not wanting to cross the line, because there were “dirty rotten coppers” just on the other side of the dunes, I sort of climbed up on the railing to get a better view.

I mean, golly, we drove all that way, ya know?

And what we observed as we looked up and over the dunes was quite puzzling.  (Isn’t the water beautiful?  No sign of oil, thank God!)  Along the shore were piles of sand.  Small groups of “cleanup crews” were stationed at each pile of sand.  One person held a 50 gallon plastic bag open, while a second person shoveled some sand into the bag.   What’s so puzzling about that?

Well . . . .

As seen above, the guy on the left is using the prevailing gulf winds to help hold the bag “open”, while the guy on the right is scooping up one small shovel of sand.

Next, as in this photo, the second small shovel of sand went into the bag.

And then . . .

with just a flick of his wrist (no muscle involved) he tossed the bag onto the pile of plastic bags you see there.

We watched other groups doing the EXACT same thing, over and over again.

until the dirty rotten coppers almost caught us taking the photos . . . . that’s a big no no.  LilSis said they would take my camera, so I hurried and pulled out my memory card in case I had to swallow the evidence.  (Uh, never mind.  I won’t go there.)

Then we rode a little further down to see what was going on at the other two boardwalks, and it was very outlandish.  I can’t even describe to you in words the feeling . . . and Steffi would have been thoroughly creeped out since this is her favorite camping spot . . .

The campground was deserted . . . .

And the other end of the State Park had been turned into some kind of staging area.  Look at all those unused barricades?  Wonder who’s paying for those?

And what in the world did they need all these portable toilets for?   And there were all these big tents and trailers and people cooking food.  It was kinda weird.  I didn’t get all the pics I wanted because official looking vehicles were coming and we had to skeedaddle out of there since we had driven past some red tape to get in there.

Then there were all these “light plants” lined up along the beach, as though they might be working at night???

As we drove back up the beach and crossed another barricade (don’t tell anyone, but the guard left his post for a minute . . .) we saw dozens of Tonka Tractors playing around having a good old time doing a bunch of nothing.  (I want that job.)

And then when the clock struck 3:00 p.m., they came herding across every “crossover” from the beach to the main highway.

Some of them even danced across the highway as they made their way to the . . .

school bus that would carry them to “The Pit”.  At least that’s what the bus driver told me when I asked her where she was taking the workers.  She said she was taking them to “The Pit” (like the Pit Grill I wondered?) where they would eat their meal.  I asked her if she would also take them to their sleeping quarters and at that moment she noticed my camera and the cat got her tongue.  She said she didn’t know.  I asked her where they slept at night, and she said she didn’t know.  When I pressed in and asked her if they were done for the day, well, she didn’t know that either.

There were school buses parked up and down the highway, picking up the cleanup crews to take them to their afternoon meal at “The Pit”.  I have no clue whether it was a late lunch or an early supper.  No one seemed to know . . . . but it turns out “The Pit” is the place down at the State Park where all the tents and toilets were.

This was a “crew boss” and she is paid more than everyone else, and her job was to make sure no one got run over while crossing the highway.

Before I could get up the courage to go to the bus and ask the workers some questions, a patrol jeep came over the levee and I jumped in the car.

We went inside the Stafish Cafe to get a bite of grease, and I took the opportunity to talk to a couple of local men.  They said they had no clue what was going on with the cleanup.  No one was allowed to go on the beach to see.  No one was allowed to talk to the cleanup crews.  They said it was all too secretive for their liking, and if I could find out why they were only putting two scoops of sand in those bags, please be sure and come back and let them know.

Lest you think the cleanup crews are mistreated or overworked or under-compensated, let me fill you in.  I’m not sure how much they are paid per hour, but it’s rumored to be way over minimum wage due to the hazardous waste factor.  They are all from out of town and out of state.  The buses provide them transportation from where they are staying, usually a hotel, and they are fed three meals a day.  In other words, it’s kind of like prison without the bars.  They don’t pay for food, transportation or lodging.  When I asked the locals where the workers stay at night, they said some of the workers had been staying at island rental camps and in beach hotels until the crime rate when up.  Somehow, the mayor of Grand Isle banned them from staying on the island.  There was a shooting, two attempted bar room stabbings, and two attempted rapes.  You have to know that Grand Isle is a very small community.  They are accustomed to peak season activity of strangers coming and filling up the island–but it’s the beach party mindset, not that of big city crime.

So, my dear readers, you must decide why those cleanup crews were only putting two scoops of sand (sounds like Raisin Bran) in the bags and why were they wearing NO PROTECTIVE GEAR AT ALL?

Now, let’s render those decisions.


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  1. Wow BW! You definitely remind me of Julia Roberts in the movie “Erin Brokovich”. I know you’ll be marching on the steps of the Capitol Building next! 🙂

    I say the GI cleanup is all a coverup. They aren’t really cleaning up anything at all. And I’ll bet they are getting paid for doing it too.

  2. I’m with Kim! I heard this evening on the news something about the records regarding the spill are to be closed?? for so many years. Sounds like espionage to me. Why would they be so darned hush hush unless they were hiding something?

  3. ohhhh BW seems to me you have uncovered some truly hush hush BS. typical of the way BP and the “govment” have been all along. Whats the big secret! We already know about how good the establishment is at wasting money and lookin like they are doing something important so us “little People” don’t whine. It’s just more of the same and of course they don’t want anyone to know for sure that they’re once agin giving us the big green wenie.

  4. This is so depressing. I’m with you–why the secrecy? What difference does it make? You’d think they’d be blabbing all over the place about how much they cared and look at al they’re doing to clean it up, putting local people to work, etc.There can’t be any need to keep it a secret, like we all don’t already know there’s a big mess going on down there.

    As for all the equipment, lights, etc., it’s typical of how Americans address a lot of problems–throw money at it. Forgetting that usually it’s sweat and hard work that actaully fixes problems, not equipment and money.

    Tjhe two shovels of sand in each bag? I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and suggest that perhaps when they find a clod of oil, they shovel it up, putting it in a bag with more sand as some sort of buffering material for when it all goes to the landfill or wherever it’s going to end up. Where does it go anyway? Once it’s cleaned off the beaches it has to be put somewhere else.

    1. Okay, Granny, I am going to add some more to this post because I failed to include all the information on those folks who are actually riding on those buses to do the cleanup. They are not locals. Locals can’t get hired because BP does not want us to see what is going on in our own backyards. Rather, if I were to sign up, they would send me to another coast. No kidding.

  5. Wasting money,I am 200 miles from the oil and they have been paying 10 or 12 boats and crews to look for oil and lay out boom in my way,even closed some creeks off,took me 3 days to get them opened and a gate put in the main boom at the light house.Plans were to close all the creeks and rivers with boom with no warning,I have 900 crab traps in those creeks,I did get the message across to move it or lose it as I am working and not sucking up BP’s money when there is no oil here.

    1. Good for you, Ronnie, getting the boom moved out of your way. Down here, if you come withing so many feet of the boom, it is a BIG FINE and possibly jail. No kidding. Did you all know that photogs are not allowed within 65 feet of oil now, as proclaimed by BP. How can they do that? How can they just commandeer the whole beach like they are martial law or something?

      1. They can do it with the Federal Governments blessing under the guise of health issues with the oil”it’s for your own safety” (roll eyes)
        I was prepared to bring in the news media and go to a Judge to get this boom moved and nobody who has their hand in BP’s pocket over here wanted that as it would cut the money flow off.

  6. Curiouser and couriouser.

    It sounds like a plot from a sci-fi movie, with Big Gov’t doing their best to keep the public from seeing and knowing what they are doing. Or not doing.

    Like ‘The Fog’ or ‘Outbreak’.

  7. Well, I’m definitely unhappy seeing this post. As I told you earlier, we were planning to go down for a couple days. I guess we’ll just go to our property in Mississippi (if the water well gets dug) and do some fishing in our pond. Now, about those 2 shovels of sand. They are either billing for the number of bags used or they are making sure know one files for Workman’s Comp because of a Hernia.

    1. Oh, Steffi, I could not let you just go down there without this warning. It would break your heart, really, because it’s just so strange. Can you imagine? All the entrances to the beach “guarded”?

  8. Maybe some of the equipment there was for the music festival held today. Normally a fishing rodeo the city turned it into a music function to aid the local economy.

    The two shovels of sand per bag sounds like busy work or what Granny Sue said.

    I hate that the out of town helpers are causing so much trouble for those local folks. Guess they feel they can get away with it since its not their home. Sad.

    The whole process smacks of something underhanded going on. Heaven help us all!

    Where are they disposing all the clean up waste? I haven’t heard the answer to that.

    Good work, oh mighty sleuth.

    1. My sources tell me it’s being dumped somewhere around Sorrento, but I’ll have to double check that and get back to you. In the first shoveling photo, notice the yellow front-end loader? It scooped up the bags and dropped them in a yellow dumpster. Then the dumpsters are taken “somewhere” and dumped. Just remember, that crude oil is a natural substance that comes from the earth, and even though no one wants that dumped in their “back yard”, it is not “toxic waste” in the noxious sense of the term.

      1. Considering the dispersant used on the oil those bags of sand could be considered toxic. Too bad that stuff was used because the A Whale was deemed useless. Dispersed the oil so the tanker couldn’t suck up enough of the oil. It was supposed to suck up oily water and spit out clean water. And the guy had two more super tankers ready to go if it had worked.

        Sorrento sounds vaguely familiar.

      2. They are getting an early start developing beach front property. With all the land La. loses every year to coastal erosion…Sorrento will become the coast line. Yippee! I’ll only have to drive 15 minutes to be on the beach instead of 3 hrs.!

        1. There are three dump sites: Slidell, Venice (eegads) and Sorrento. Most of the stuff is going to the landfill there in Sorrento off the main highway between 70 and 22. Know where that is, right?

  9. Wonder if a illiterate yankee from 1000 miles north can wonder around there.
    Look like need to work on my tan some more though. Maybe the bags are contingency bags for when the big blow happens. Sounds like a raisin bran commercial though. Wind and rain and rain and wind here. Milwaukee to Chicago looks like Leeville. Don’t think FEMA is coming either.

    1. Sorry ’bout the rain and flooding. Better off without FEMA, reckon. There are plenty of yankees working the cleanup, but if anyone yankee or rebel doesn’t have a big name tag hanging off the shirt, or the right color shirt for your team, you can be arrested.

      1. Who is doing the arresting? Surely BP doesn’t have the right to come onto USA soil and order its citizens around or arrest them. And, from what I have seen and heard from your governor, it doesn’t seem like he would give them the time of day much less policing rights. Who has taken over and proclaimed martial law? I’m not trying to be sarcastic but, I am very curious.
        The workers sound like prisoners on work furlough. Do you think they are?

        1. The very question you raise was a BIG topic of discussion on talk radio a couple weeks ago. Every indication that whomever BP had hired to patrol had the authority to get people arrested. I don’t know if that meant calling deputies in or what, but when it applied to the media not coming within 65 feet of oil or oiled birds, etc. they were up in arms over it asking, “Well, what if we do? What then? You gonna arrest us?” Isn’t it odd that the very people who spilled oil are policing their own cleanup? That’s just peachy, ain’t it? Do you think you can believe their reports about their own successes and accomplishments? And what Shoreacres says about working 20 and resting 20 is very true. I saw it with my own eyes. And again, it was HOT the day I was taking those photos, and I broke a sweat just walking around, and not one of those workers had a sweat ring anywhere on their clothing. I don’t know anything about them being real prisoners, but security was TIGHT.

  10. We just returned today from four days camping at Grand Isle State Park. We went so we could attend the Island Aid Festival. It was a very well planned festival and hopefully the monies it generated will go to it’s intended purpose which is to help rebuild the tourism industry for the island.

    The oily sand is being washed at at least two locations on the island. The sand goes back in the Gulf. I don’t know where the oily stuff goes.

    We’ve kept a close eye on the Island since all this started. Our oldest has a new camp there which is currently being rented. In our several trips there we have never seen anyone working very hard. We, too, have questioned the need of so many ‘workers’ on the payroll.

    We learned that there hasn’t been very much oil on the island since June. BUT depending on winds and tides that could change.

    Lord, we’ll all be so happy when things can become more normal again.

    1. Hi Cynthia! It’s good to hear from you. So, did you see all those toilets and barricades and light plants lined up? I was thinking today that maybe all that stuff was there waiting to be used for yesterday’s concert. Any thoughts on that? Oh, and tonight’s report from the coast guard is that there is oil 12 miles off the GI coast, but other than that, it looks like the ocean is taking care of all the oil that is already out there . . . . at least that is an inside report I got from a source I cannot reveal. Is your son renting to workers? As in cleanup or BP or whatever?

      1. Hi BW,
        The toilets, barricades and light plants were for the concert. Son is renting to an ‘Incident’ company contracted by BP (BP pays the rent), but these guys do not get their hands dirty. One said they might be out of there by December. Could we be so lucky to have all clean up done by then? And fisherman back to work in healthy fisheries?

        1. Yea, I felt kind of silly when I was sitting here Friday thinking about the concert . . . and how all that was probably waiting for the concert. I want to take a ride back down and see if all that stuff disappeared from the state park, though. December would be GREAT!!! I’ve heard some good reports on the dissipation of the oil . . . . . and I hope they are true.

          1. Hey, don’t feel silly, those barricades could have been used in a zig zag pattern for the “workers” lining up to get their free food or to use the Porta Potties.

  11. It’s hard for me to keep up with what’s actually happening from here in Texas, but there have been a few facts that have filtered out and been verified.

    Over in AL clean up crews were being allowed to work only 20 minutes of each hour because of the heat. OSHA regulations. Of course, OSHA was putting them in those hazmat suits, booties, etc. that don’t breathe, so they were making heat even more of a problem.

    Also, some crews were forbidden to work after 5 p.m., when it begins to cool. Isn’t that great. That’s what happens when you get some paper pusher who’s never worked outdoors a day in his or her life trying to figure out an operation like this.

    There’s been a lot of concern about when the waste material is going. I’ve heard that “cleaning the sand” isn’t possible on-site, and that a good bit of oily boom material has been going into landfills east of you. Whether that’s true in LA, I don’t know.

    One fellow who’s been quite environmentally active in Gulf Shores has a blog that might be of interest to you or your readers. You can find him at Gulf Coast Nirvana.

    There’s a BIG deal working here in Houston to bring some support (read: dollars) to your area, but I’ll contact you about that elsewhere since it’s still in the planning stages.

    You know we’re all still thinking of you and fussing like crazy. Thank God Bonnie decided to poof herself. Now, let’s see if they can get this thing under control before the next storm shows up and does some real damage.

    1. I verified the dump sites with my reliable source this evening, and just posted down there somewhere what I found out. Yes, I’m glad Bonnie poofed herself. The relief well should be finished soon and then Mother Nature and the GOM will have to deal with the oil that’s out there already. Please do write me about the Big Deal when you have more information. Thanks for all this info. my little twinkly-eyed wealth of knowledge!!!!

  12. I just went over to check my links and have some good news to report – all of the ROVs (remotely operated vehicles – the cameras used at the seabed) are back in place. It looks like they’re in the process of getting everything put back together and will be up and running soon.

    Here’s a great, stable link for the ROVs: http://tentdwellers.org/bp_cams.php

    And if you go to http://webchat.freenode.net/
    enter a nickname and #theoildrum, you can follow real-time chatter among real professionals that explains what’s happening with the work of getting this thing plugged. It’s really pretty cool, even though it’s like watching a movie with subtitles 😉

  13. very nice work you have posted
    seems to be hush bp media .must be a lot of oil sitting on bottom in the gulf , wonder what the shrimp fleet crews are finding in their caught ends.tar balls ??
    some of us will not let this avoidable tragedy be forgotten.
    thanks for taking time to post the photo article web pages