Tag: Alabama beaches

Singin’ Sweet Home Oilabama All Summer Long- Spill Ecotourism

I’ve been checking on Linda Leavitt’s twitter account http://twitter.com/ WhoDat35 for news of the effects of the ongoing BP oil spill, and I suggest you bookmark this-  she’s a tireless lover of all things Louisiana coastal, and the locals have been tweeting her some great links.

The oil has started to wash up quite a bit more on the sugar sands of Alabama-  I knew Alabama had Gulf of Mexico coastline, but I didn’t realize that they had such beautiful sand beaches until this oil spill.   Many concerned people are contacting Leavitt in astonishment that the oiled beaches have not been officially closed yet to beachgoers, and not only are people sunbathing,  that they’ve seen children actually swimming in this stuff.

A month ago, in Louisiana, Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies were blocking reporters and bloggers from seeing the oil washed up on Elmer’s Island, at BP’s request.  But the tourist beaches were still open.

Mac McClelland and John Hazlett end up kayaking into the spill area to see it 524/2010/


At the turn to Elmer’s Island Road, a deputy flags us down. Can’t go to Elmer’s; he’s just “doing what they told me to do.” We continue on to Grand Isle beach, where toddlers splash in the surf. Only after I’ve stepped in a blob of crude do I realize that the sheen on the waves and the blackness covering a little blue heron from the neck down is oil.

The next day, cops drive up and down Grand Isle beach explicitly telling tourists it is still open, just stay out of the water. There are pools of oil on the beach; dolphins crest just offshore. A fifty-something couple, Southern Louisianians, tell me this kind of thing happened all the time when they were kids; they swam in rubber suits when it got bad, and it was no big deal. They just hope this doesn’t mean we’ll stop drilling.

The blockade to Elmer’s is now four cop cars strong. As we pull up, deputies start bawling us out; all media need to go to the Grand Isle community center, where a “BP Information Center” sign now hangs out front. nside, a couple of Times-Picayune reporters circle BP representative Barbara Martin, who tells them that if they want passage to Elmer they have to get it from another BP flack, Irvin Lipp; Grand Isle beach is closed too, she adds. When we inform the Times-Pic reporters otherwise, she asks Dr. Hazlett if he’s a reporter; he says,  “No.” She says, “Good.”

Where the tourist beache aren’t, the access is harder to come by-  see the June 11 kayak visit they made to Grande Terre, http://motherjones.com/rights-… ,  where BP’s contracted clean up crews were using some sort of cross between a paper towel and a sham wow, dozens of them laid across the sand, to blot up millions of gallons of oil from the beaches “where the oil stretched as far as we could see in deep, dark pools.”