In recent weeks, reporters and photographers for major news organizations around the country have been speaking out about the attempts by BP to prevent them from getting a first-hand look at the Gulf Coast oil spill. A CBS News crew was threatened with arrest when it tried to photograph the spill, and a BP representative in Louisiana told a Mother Jones reporter that she couldn’t visit the Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge without a BP escort.
On Monday, journalists from the New York Daily News were also “escorted away from a public beach on Elmer’s Island bycops who said they were taking orders from BP.” However, they managed to get a covert tour of the Queen Bess barrier island from a BP contractor who is fed up with the oil company’s attempt to cover up the disaster:
“There is a lot of coverup for BP. They specifically informed us that they don’t want these pictures of the dead animals. They know the ocean will wipe away most of the evidence. It’s important to me that people know the truth about what’s going on here,” the contractor said.
“The things I’ve seen: They just aren’t right. All the life out here is just full of oil. I’m going to show you what BP never showed the President.” [...]
The grasses by the shore were littered with tarred marine life, some dead and others struggling under a thick coating of crude.
“When you see some of the things I’ve seen, it would make you sick,” the contractor said. “No living creature should endure that kind of suffering.”
“BP is going to say the deaths of these animals wasn’t oil-related,” the contractor added. “We know the truth. I hope these pictures get to the right people — to someone who can do something.”
Today, the International Bird Rescue Research Center released new figures on the number of animals that have been reported to the Unified Area Command from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the affected region. The numbers include 779 dead birds, sea turtles, or mammals (not all showed visible oil signs), and another 108 that were “visibly oiled” but still alive.
A new CNN report shows some disgusting images of the oil on the shore of the Gulf Coast, and notes that some people — including children — are still unaware of the dangers of the oil and are swimming in the polluted water: