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The effects of the BP oil spill on the Pointe-au-Chien Indian tribe’s economy has been devastating. The Louisiana tribe gets a large portion of their income from the summer fishing season, which was lost to oil and a fearful market this year. “If you take a percentage of the tribe, then maybe 25 percent of the tribe, their sole income is this time of the year,” said the tribe’s chief, Chuckie Verdin, 53. “This year’s fishing is just about over. We only got about another month. Then it’ll be just a long way through the winter months,” Verdin said. The small, French-speaking tribe of roughly 682 people lives along the Bayou Pointe-au-Chien in southern Louisiana. Although they have a history of hunting and agriculture, today their economy relies primarily on fishing—a change they attribute in part to the land’s devastation by oil companies, according to their website.
Contamination tests on local shellfish and soil from the local waters showed high levels of toxins. Verdin investigated the issue with Lower Mississippi River Keeper Paul Orr, from the Water Keeper Alliance, the organization that found the infamous “Dead Bird Island,” a video that can be seen on YouTube where dead and dying birds litter the ground. In one particular location—an oyster bed that Verdin led the team to—oil could not be seen or smelled, but tests showed high levels of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) carcinogenic contaminants that carry the fingerprint of the BP oil spill. Wilma Subra, an award-winning chemist who conducted the tests, told The Epoch Times in an earlier interview that, “We did find it in large quantities in the soil sediment, as well as in vegetation and organisms—oysters and some in the crabs.” She added that other contaminants were also found, and “we’re not talking parts-per-million or parts-per-billion. ... It was there in substantial concentrations.”
“Some of those processors, especially some of those processors from out of state, they don’t even want those fish from over here,” Verdin said. “The catch has been good, but now you just can hardly sell it.” “Especially for the oyster business, it has not come back. They opened up the oysters, but nobody want to buy no oysters at all,” he said. Even if fishermen can sell their catch, the lowered demand has lowered what people are willing to pay. Verdin noted that many members of the tribe don’t bother to fish because the cost of fuel and the expense of going out rival the payment they’ll receive once they get back.
For many members of the tribe, the current situation is bearable, but the main concern is how the oil spill will affect next year’s catch. “There’s a lot of talk about that,” said Russell Dardar, 42. Dardar is a crab and oyster fisherman, but hasn’t sold a catch since the beginning of July. His wife is working two jobs to help support their two children. Fishing wasn’t just the bulk of the tribes income. It was also one of their main sources of food. “Most of us not eatin’ it,” Dardar said. “We all worried about getting sick with this stuff. We don’t know yet, but we decided to wait a little while.”
Dardar's family used to eat crab two to three times a week, and seafood was part of their daily diet. “We still have some we kept in the freezers,” Dardar said, adding they’ve eaten their frozen food sparingly.
Originally posted by gardCanada
Can there not be a month to month expense account submitted to BP for the costs incurred by these affected people? I thought that BP would be paying for all damages done; as with most cases should it not also be potential losses?
My heart goes out to these people and all affected by this spill. An environmental catastrophe...