05.07.10 10:09 PM ET
Track the Oil Leak!
Submit your updates for the Oil Spill Crisis Map! This interactive map tracks live reports from Gulf Coast residents via tweets, texts, and emails about what they're seeing along the coastlines.
What am I looking at? Read the post below by Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, the group that built the Oil Spill Crisis Map.
We spend our days in neighborhoods next to refineries. That’s the usual landscape of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. We work with people like Mama Seabell and Velma White—women who have raised families under the shadows of Shell’s flares and ExxonMobil’s polluted waters. Now, with the BP oil-spill crisis, the communities impacted by the oil industry include the coastline, where fishing communities rely on the ocean for survival.
We conceived of the map to help refinery neighbors report pollution, planning to launch it in a couple of months. As the oil leak grew to massive proportions, we realized we needed to use the map and use it now. We needed an Oil Spill Crisis Map. We made this decision on Thursday at 6 p.m. By Friday at 5 p.m. our test map was in operation. We worked out the kinks over the weekend, and on Monday, May 3 we publicly launched the Oil Spill Crisis Map.
For the last six days, we have been in fishing communities to try and understand how the map can help. From Hopedale and Shell Beach to Buras and Venice, the stories are heartbreaking. “This is the second time in five years I’ve eaten off a Red Cross truck,” said one oysterman, referring to the days post-Katrina. In the short term, people can’t fish, harvest oysters, or run their shrimp boats. They can’t make money and their livelihoods are at risk.
And the long term? This oil spill threatens to be the knockout punch to follow Katrina’s left hook. Sheila Ratiff of Plaquemines Parish told me about her cousin who called her in tears. In debt from years of rebuilding after Katrina, they’re already expecting the repo man. “We might as well just pile everything up outside our house.” Oystermen, fishermen, shrimpers—they’ve been doing this all their lives.
Pictures are beginning to surface that show wildlife swimming in oil. Sting rays and sharks have been spotted in black pools of BP’s disaster. This is a tragedy for people and for the environment. If only we really could get Beyond Petroleum.