That actually is a hard one to answer. The Bhopal disaster happened on terra firma and the exact number of deaths attributed to it is still a subject of discussion. Many estimate that the number killed from the immediate explosion as more than died in the Twin Towers 9/11 attack, many sources also claim that as many as 16,000 people have died as a direct consequence of the Bhopal disaster. Death is not always immediate, sometimes it can occur long after the event. There is no finer example of that than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the case of BP and the disaster in the Gulf the number of direct deaths is in the teens. But how many slow deaths are we looking at? How many small family companies have ground to a halt? How many dreams have been destroyed? Not everyone needs to make a $100 million a year, success might just be having a small shrimp boat, a simple house, and a simple life. It might just be getting up in the pre-dawn hours and snagging bait that the tourists can use on the well heeled, and well fed half day fishing trip.

Today BP released their ‘In House’ report on the problem. I was appalled, it was 193 pages of  we didn’t do it! If you have not read this adventure in creative writing, I suggest that you do.

The whole 193 pages should be turned into an audio book read by Tony Hayward using his whiny ‘I want my life back’ voice!

The good news, although it is a bit of a stretch to find good in this appalling mess, is that there are some local residents willing to fight for their rights. Katrina devastated the region in 2005, many material possessions were lost, but you could not kill the will of the people. Houses can be rebuilt, lives can continue on. In some ways Katrina merely served as a training ground for what is being faced in the region once again.

I received this press release, and I am happy to post it in its entirety:

“THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS”
September 11, 2010
EXXON VALDEZ, HURRICANES KATRINA/RITA, BP OIL SPILL SURVIVORS, AND 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS JOINING IN ONE VOICE TO UNITE THE CITIZENS OF THE GULF COAST AND HONOR THOSE WHO PAY THE PRICE FOR MAN MADE DISASTERS

New Orleans, LA – Nearly 200 years ago Andrew Jackson joined forces with Jean Lafitte and organized a volunteer force of Native Americans, Baratarian pirates, Southern militia, and free men of color. Defending their homeland-this diverse group of out numbered citizen warriors defeated the British army in one of the most decisive victories in our nations history. Our country is now fighting another man made disaster. But this is not only about the Citizens of the Gulf Coast. Our fight is to preserve the human right to clean air and water. This is not just a fight for the gulf and the Coastal states, but for the entire planet.

To find solutions you must first identify the problem. Coastal residents, fishermen, oilfield workers, and their families will be available to discuss the reality of life on the coast at Andrew Jackson’s Battle Ground.

We will also honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our way of life. A group of Concerned citizens will meet in the City of New Orleans to unite non-profit groups, future volunteers, and people of all faiths. Our mission is to honor those that gave their lives to protect us – The fishermen and beach workers who continue to put their health at risk cleaning the spill, offshore workers, the Valdez survivors that lost their lively hood (while many lost their life), those that continue to fall ill for their heroic efforts on 911, and the 11 men that lost their lives on April 20th.

Events for the Day will include:
A meeting with all parties via the Creole Queen Riverboat, to begin at 1:30 p.m., with a press conference to convene at Andrew Jackson’s battleground.
The following fine people will be available for interview:
Kindra Arnesen – representing the families fishermen
Acy Cooper Jr. – Venice, La. representative for fishermen in Venice & VP of the Louisiana Shrimp Association his congressional testimony was stellar
Marla Cooper – Elected official in Plaquemines parish District 8
Phillip Simmons – Empire, Louisiana cattleman and Katrina survivor on the mouth of the Mississippi, past oil worker and oysterman
Cherri Foytlin – representing the out of work Oil Workers
Drew Wheelan – with the American Birding Association, been working in Grand Isle since April.
Drew Landry – Louisiana songwriter & film maker – oil blog @ www.dirtycajuns.com
Holt Webb – founder of the Vanishing America Project – vanishing America.net
Denise Rednour – Domestic and wildlife animal activist from Ocean Springs , Miss
Karen Hopkins – Grand Isle, La. Runs Dean Blanchard seafood and outspoken advocate for seafood & human health concerns
Richard Skinner – 9/11 First Responder and Fealgood Foundation representative
Lorrie and Bubba Williams – Biloxi Mississippi crabbers and spill documentarians
Michelle Nix – Louisiana toxicologist
Glenn Reed – President of Pacific Seafood Processors Association, Exxon Valdez survivor
Steve Minors – Executive Director of the North Pacific Crab Association, Exxon Valdez survivor

A prayer vigil in Jackson Square, at 7:30 p.m., with the Bayou Healers of the Houma Nation and local Churches.

A fundraising concert at Tipitina’s in the French Quarter, 233 N PETERS ST, 8:30 p.m., to benefit oil workers, fishermen and environmental concerns in the Gulf of Mexico.
The event will also be the Official Release Party for the “BP Blues” – produced by Warner Brothers & Drew Landry with 75% of the proceeds of the itunes single to www.save our gulf.org
Presale tickets available Tuesday on the Tipitina’s website – $15, Day of show – $20.
With line up to include: The Drew Landry Band will w/ guest Mike Dean, Kevin Sehkani, & Abe Manuel (Merle Haggard’s Fiddle Player)* Clarence “Tadpole” Henry (son of the Frogman) MJ NUNEZ * THE FRISHBERG FAMILY BAND * BRUCE DAGREPONT * VERY SPECIAL GUEST TBA

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR FOR INTERVIEWS CONTACT:
Cherri Foytlin 337-393-2219
foytlinfam@cox.net

What is not contained in this release is that prior to the festivities there are a number of serious meeting planned. The location of these meetings is not being released at this stage, and the press has not been invited. While this might sound strange, it makes perfect sense. There are many people that are genuinely concerned that BP will move into high gear ‘spin control’ if they are given access.

I will be running a radio program at noon on Saturday Sep/11, I am hoping to have an update on that program. You can find the link here.

Simon Barrett

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