Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today in BP Oil Disaster: Day 68

Posted By on Sat, Jun 26, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Stepped onto my balcony this morning with a mug of French roast and got socked in the house with oilstench. It's particularly bad out there today. It smells like a tire fire with some chemicals mixed in -- or, as someone put it recently, "burning GI Joes."

Anyway:

• Is it just me, or are some national media salivating at the thought of Tropical Storm Alex going over the spill site? It doesn't look likely this time, guys, so calm down. Here's a prediction of the track of the storm that shares its name with Gambit's green reporter, Mr. Alex Woodward:

• If a storm does come near the wellhead, says Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, it could disrupt oil capture for two weeks. Also:

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who's heading the federal cleanup operation, says he'll have to redeploy people and equipment to safer areas 120 hours (five days) in advance of gale-force winds.

What? We've all seen the five-day "cone of error." It takes up 2/3 of the Gulf sometimes. Are they really saying that they're going to stand down every time the wellhead falls within the five-day cone of error? Doesn't seem likely. Can somebody embedded with Adm. Allen ask him about that?

The Christian Science Monitor asks "Could 'toxic storm' make beach towns uninhabitable?" It's a remarkably unsensational article, realistic and sobering. And sad, sad, sad.

The New York Times calls shenanigans on one of BP's particularly bogus blog entries, in which a "BP reporter" takes a flight over the Gulf of Mexico without even mentioning that, you know, THERE'S OIL DOWN THERE.

• Vice President Joe Biden is coming to town on Tuesday to tour the National Incident Command Center in New Orleans. Then he's off to the Florida Panhandle.

• Today is Hands Across the Sand, where well-meaning people will gather on beaches and hold hands. Okay. It's your thing. Do whatcha wanna do. Seems like they'd do more good if they put shovels in those hands, though.

• Chet Flippo of CMT writes a beautiful essay about the disaster, urging the country-music community to do all they can do to help the Gulf Coast.

BILOXI: "Large patches of oil, square miles in size, were only three miles south of the barrier islands Friday and moving in." On May 14, Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour was saying that it was "possible that what happens here will be manageable and of moderate and even minimal impact." Barbour today? “There are 20 skimmers for the whole Gulf, and Mississippi needs that many alone. It became obvious in Alabama and Florida. And by the time they were aware of it, they were deluged.”

• What could go wrong with Jimmy Buffett doing a free concert to benefit the Alabama tourism industry? This. And Ala. Gov. Bob Riley says he's investigating.

The story of Allen Kruse, the Alabama boat captain who committed suicide this week. Unbelievably tragic.

"Nothing was easy working with BP. Everything was hard, and it consumed him. He wasn't crazy," said his wife, Tracy, 41, sitting outside the couple's home in Foley on Thursday.

"He'd been a charter boat captain for 25 years, and all of the sudden he had people barking orders at him who didn't know how to tie up a boat to a pier. I think he thought, 'I've got to get out of this. I can't take it.' "

The spill also left Kruse emotionally devastated. It robbed him of his passion for taking customers out to the Gulf to fish for red snapper and grouper, his wife said.

"Our whole lives surround this, this oil, everything is oil," he told her a few days ago.

Are you thoroughly depressed yet? (In fact, that's the question in this week's Gambit online poll: "Have you experienced significant depression from hearing about the Gulf oil disaster?" Current results: Yes, 73%; No, 18%; It's coming, 9%.) One person who's not depressed about the situation is James Carville -- instead, he's pissed, and that's our cover story for tomorrow's paper. Pick up Gambit to see what Carville has to say about Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Obama administration, and, of course, BP.

Pensacola, Orange Beach, Destin, and all the communities where New Orleanians love to come and play in the summer: we're thinking of you. Hang tough.

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