While Updating Emergency Response Plan, Coast Guard Gets Input About Oil Spill Health ConcernsBy Rhonda Miller | Published 08 Sep 2011 12:02am |
A year after the BP oil spill, the Coast Guard is updating its disaster response plan. MPB’s Rhonda Miller attended a town hall meeting in Biloxi Wednesday where residents gave their input.
Only a handful of people attended the public forum, but those few made it clear, they want the Coast Guard’s new plan to begin with what’s on the ground now.
Charles Taylor of Bay Saint Lewis brought evidence of the frustration he’s endured.
"I wanted to bring this that I collected this morning right on my beach by my house," Taylor said. "This is orange. It's oil. But I wanted them to see this. Normal sand collected from high up on the dune, that’s white. This is orange brown pudding-looking stuff."
Taylor says it’s not just about sand, it’s about health.
"I’ve been sick from this oil or the dispersant or the combination thereof since last summer," Taylor said. "I have Crohn’s Disease, but it's been in remission for 20-something years. This, I feel, is a trigger that has aggravated it, and brought it back from its dormant state, fully active."
" We’ve been working on advocacy for the people especially who are ill because of the use of dispersants," said Cherri Foytlin of Rayne, Louisiana. She wants the new plan based on more scientific evidence about the long-term effects of oil and dispersant.
Coast Guard Captain Don Rose says the revised plan kicks the authority to use dispersants up to a higher level.
"We’re all acutely aware of the controversy associated with dispersants, both the political and scientific questions about it," Rose said. "We’ve essentially taken the position that we need to elevate the decision to use dispersants up to the regional response team."
Rose said another major change from the 2008 plan is to put offshore rigs onto the radar.
"The scenarios we plan for need to include offshore oil drilling facilities and the worst case discharges that could come from them. Previously our area plans didn’t consider that," Rose said.
The updated Coast Guard contingency plan for Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle will be based mainly on lessons learned from the BP oil spill.
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