It is becoming apparent that efforts to prevent the oil gushing out of BP’s blown-out Deepwater Horizon rig from ravaging the Gulf Coast may be largely ineffective. An increasing number of stories are also starting to circulate concerning deliberate attempts by both BP and government officials to block coverage of the damage and the clean-up attempts.
In a video clip obtained by ThinkProgress, a local news team from WDSU in New Orleans was told by a private security guard that they were not allowed to talk to cleanup workers on a public beach or come within 100 yards of cleanup operations.
“WhoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s saying that?” reporter Scott Walker asked the guard. “Because no one can tell me that, unless youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the Jefferson Parish SheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Office, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the Coast Guard, or youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the military, can you tell me where to go on this public beach.”
“I can tell you where to go because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m employed to keep this beach safe,” the guard replied, adding, “You are not allowed to interview any workers.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta similarly reported on Thursday that his efforts to film attempts by the Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Service to rescue oil-covered birds had been blocked, even though his news team had received permission from the state Fish and Wildlife Service to enter the bird triage center.
“I’m going to have to ask you to stop taking pictures,” a National Guardsman told them.
“It’s more important for the animals to have a quiet, calm, controlled area at this point,” a Fish and Wildlife Service representative insisted when asked for an explanation.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper also recounted being “prevented by federal wildlife officials from photographing birds covered in oil being brought ashore. … They actually now have this area where the birds come in roped off and guarded by National Guard troops.”
This obstruction of the media is occurring even though BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles sent out a message to BP employees and contractors on Wednesday, stating, “Recent media reports have suggested that individuals involved in the cleanup operation have been prohibited from speaking to the media, and this is simply untrue. BP fully supports and defends all individuals rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose.”
BP guards have continued to block reporters from interviewing the cleanup workers, and the workers themselves have spoken off camera of threats that they will lose their jobs if they talk to reporters.
The WDSU reporter specifically mentioned the Suttles memo to the BP guards who were blocking his access to cleanup workers and asked, “Still hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trickled down to you all?”
The guards’ unhelpful response was, “We already heard that one too. … The e-mail did not explicitly give you permission to do that.”
This video was posted by ThinkProgress on YouTube on June 12, 2010.
This video from CNN was posted at YouTube on June 10, 2010.