April 22: BP oil spill one year later with journalist Dahr Jamail and Mississippi resident, Shirley Tillman

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Just over a year ago we heard about an oil drilling rig exploding in the Gulf of Mexico and that 11 workers were missing. Like many, I followed the news as the rig sank into water thousands of meters deep. What would happen to all that piping I wondered? The image of the oil spewing and billowing out of the wrecked valve on the Gulf floor is now one more global icon of disaster.

We all got a lesson on how dangerous deepwater oil drilling is, but perhaps none more directly than the families of those killed outright in the explosion, and today, the people who live along the Gulf coast of the United States.  According to the restorethe gulf.org website, 4.9 million barrels of oil were discharged into the Gulf and just over one million gallons of dispersants were used to keep the oil off the beaches. 

A year after the disaster, and since this is Earth Day, we wanted to get an idea of what has happened in the Gulf area and we spoke with Dahr Jamail, a highly respected independent journalist who has spent many months in the Gulf region investigating and reporting on how the disaster is still a reality with people who live there.

In a recent article, Jamail writes that “…marine and wildlife biologists, toxicologists, and medical doctors have described the impact of the disaster upon the environment and human health as “catastrophic,” and … this is only the beginning of what they expect to be an environmental and human health crises that will likely span decades.” 

Also, in the second half hour we talked to Gulf resident Shirley Tillman (thanks to Dahr Jamail for the contact info) in Mississippi about the aftermath of the disaster and how it has affected her, her family and her neighbours.

skimming oil

In the interview with Dahr Jamail he mentioned the work of Samantha Joye and you can read an article here about her work. Also, Jamail informed listeners that a government gag order prevented scientists from reporting on deaths of marine animals such as dolphins. You can read more about this here.

In talking to Shirley Tillman, we were briefly connected as human beings sharing a beautiful planet. Windsor/Detroit is an industrial area surrounded by water befouled by industry. Ours is a slow motion economic and environmental disaster of sorts, while those along the Gulf of Mexico have had their lives turned upside down in a short period of time.

controlled oil burn

Music Featured on the program from CJAM’s library:

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