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By Daniel R. Petrolia and William C. Walton
For Cainnon Gregg, 2018 started out as a great year. After leaving his job as an installation artist to become a full-time oyster farmer in Wakulla County, Florida in 2017, Gregg began raising small oysters in baskets or bags suspended in the shallow, productive coastal waters of Apalachicola Bay.
Raising oysters "off-bottom" this way takes a lot of time and money, but has a big potential payoff. They are destined for the high-end raw bar market, where offerings are denoted by specific appellations, like "Salty Birds" (Cainnon's oysters), "Navy Coves" (from Alabama) and "Murder Points" (also from Alabama), and can retail for twice the price of oysters harvested from traditional on-bottom reefs.
Gulf Change, a group of Gulf Coast mothers, grandmothers and concerned citizens, is calling for an immediate Congressional hearing concerning actions needed in order to address the continuing health effects of the BP Oil drilling disaster.
More than 2,400 cases of chemical poisoning have been reported across the Gulf Coast, with symptoms including headaches, respiratory illness, pulmonary issues, seizures, gastrointestinal problems, rectal bleeding, skin and eye ailments, memory loss and neurological issues.
Clean-up workers, fishermen and coastal residents have reported symptoms and proper diagnosis and care is urgently needed, particularly for children who are suffering the effects of oil and dispersant exposure.
Kindra Arnesen, resident of South Plaquemines Parish in South Louisiana describes the children's health crisis in her community:
"...we have 388 children in the local elementary school and in that school we have sick kids all over the place, they're suffering from upper respiratory infections, severe asthma, all the sudden, in kids that had nothing wrong with them before. Skin conditions, lesions in between their fingers, around their mouths. As of April 2011 we had a closet full of nebulizers to help them breath. A closet full of nebulizers for a school with 388 kids. Where's the red flag?"
A recently released video by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), highlights the health struggles of several coastal families. One mother of three, Julie Creppel, of Burras, La., estimates her son has been on antibiotics ten or eleven times in the two years since the disaster and her 12-year old daughter's health has also suffered:
"They say she's got acute sinusitis....I've had to pick her up multiple times from school since the spill. I never picked her up before. She's stayed sick and had to miss more school now than she ever has before...and her stomach, it bothers her...she swears it's killing her."
In addition to their call for an immediate Congressional hearing, Gulf Coast activists are calling for health care for effected clean-up workers and residents and for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, the victim's compensation fund paid for by BP and administered by Kenneth Feinberg, to immediately pay all health-related and economic claims.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Today and tomorrow, we are asking everyone to participate in Twitter (today, Dec. 12) and Facebook (tomorrow, Dec. 13) Social Media Days of Action around the RESTORE Act, urging Congress to make the bill a priority this year. The RESTORE Act will ensure that 80 percent of the Gulf oil spill Clean Water Act penalties that British Petroleum and other responsible parties will have to pay will be returned to the Gulf States that deserve it. We need Congress to make passing the RESTORE Act a priority, so that this money will be dedicated to Gulf Coast ecosystem and economic restoration.
You can help by joining our RESTORE Act Twitter Day of Action today. Be sure to include the #RESTOREact hashtag, as well as tagging @SenatorReid and @McConnellPress in your Tweets.
Sample Tweets (Click to Tweet):
A reminder that tomorrow we will be having a Facebook RESTORE Act Day of Action. Become a fan of Restore the Mississippi River Delta on Facebook to participate and check back here tomorrow for more details.
For more information, click here.