Six arrested at BP headquarters five years after gulf oil disaster
On eve of shareholder meeting, protesters stage sit-in to demand BP addresses their grievances from biggest marine disaster in history.
On the morning of 15th April, six Gulf coast residents were arrested inside the main entrance to BP’s Houston headquarters ahead of the upcoming five-year anniversary of the biggest marine oil disaster in history. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon disaster killed eleven workers and began spewing 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The action was the first of many demonstrations planned across the Gulf South leading up to the April 20.
The protesters unfurled banners that read “Never Again: No Sacrifice Zones”, “Extreme Energy our of our Communities” and “No Kill, No Spill: Keep It In The Ground.” One of those arrested was Cherri Foytlin, a mother of six who travelled from her home on the Southern Louisiana coast to demand answers from BP on behalf of Gulf Coast residents. Foytlin said: “BP has used false advertising to sell the public a lie. The truth is many have fallen ill due to BP's heavy use of toxic chemicals. Our dolphins and turtles are still dying at unprecedented rates. Our fisheries still struggle to recover. Our hard working fishing families still suffer economic losses as BP has done everything possible to dodge their responsibilities to a settlement that they helped to write.
“Little has changed to protect the life and health of workers on the rigs. And BP's oil, a mat the size of Rhode Island, is still out there on the sea floor. Their oil invades our shores to this day. The truth is that the oil is still here, and so are we. We have a right to thrive. Anyone who keeps us from that is an enemy to us. This is our battle. This is everyone's battle. And we will not yield.”
Residents across the Gulf Coast echo similar complaints against BP, primarily that many are still suffering from a myriad of medical conditions related to the spill and its clean up. Residents say they are not getting the medical attention they need and that financial reparations to local economies devastated by BP’s disaster have yet to be made to those who need it most. And, despite BP’s rosy claims to the contrary, many of the Gulf’s most important fisheries are on the verge of collapse.
“The BP Disaster shows that the oil industry isn't capable of preventing or cleaning up a catastrophe like BP. Let the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico be a cautionary tale: we should not drill in the Arctic. We should not drill off the Atlantic coast,” said Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and one of the arrested protesters. “In Louisiana, our oysters are dying, our fishermen are out of work. BP has killed our livelihood and our culture but instead of taking responsibility for that harm, the best they can do is churn out glossy PR photos of white sand and blue water.”
Rainforest Action Network points to the ongoing crisis of the BP oil disaster as evidence for the urgent need for fundamental changes to the existing federal system of fossil fuel leasing. In response to disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon, the Obama administration has recently implemented regulatory changes to offshore oil drilling. According to RAN and other activists, however, much more needs to be done.
“Half measures and minor tweaks to drilling regulations are entirely insufficient. The fact is, as long as our government continues to sell off our publicly owned lands and coastal waters to be looted and polluted by dirty energy companies, tragedies like the BP oil disaster are guaranteed to be repeated into the future,” said Laurel Sutherlin of Rainforest Action Network. “It is time for President Obama to show true climate leadership by keeping our publicly owned fossil fuels in the ground."