BP and the Gulf of Mexico – 2 Years Later
2 years ago, a tragic accident on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig quickly became an epic environmental disaster that captured the attention of the world. In the US, we watched helplessly as oil gushed from the well day and night, knowing that it was only a matter of time before it hit the shores along the coast. For months on end, we were served up horrific images of oiled birds, fish, turtles, etc. 24-7 as the oil continued to spew into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage didn’t end there, nor has it been fully acknowledged.
There are stories that are waiting to be told by people whose lives have never been the same after the BP oil spill, if only we would be open to listening to them. Many people along the coast are disheartened by the lack of attention to their plight, while the rest of the world has largely moved on, forgotten, or been convinced that everything was cleaned up and we can leave it in the past.
A big part of acknowledging the true impact is the recognition that the kids who live along the Gulf coast have suffered a unique set of setbacks and challenges as a result of the spill. These impacts have been largely invisible to the rest of the world.
The kids are not the activists who protest at BP shareholder meetings, they are not the ones that lined up to vent their frustrations at community meetings with the Coast Guard and BP during the spill’s peak, and they are not the ones that have filed paperwork to be ‘made whole’ by the responsible party in the disaster. No, they are the kids of all of those frustrated residents. They are the sons and daughters of shrimp boat crew members, shop owners, charter fishermen and many other local workers who have seen their parents lose their livelihood, and in many cases, their dignity over these past 2 arduous years.
Don’t think for a minute that this has been tied off nicely with a happy ending for these kids. Stress in Gulf coast families has impacted their lives in ways that are not easily seen. Kids that grew up on the Gulf waters and spent their childhood in and around the bayous are living with a different reality today. The care-free days of spending free time on the beaches has been replaced by concerns over how safe the area is and whether their families are ever going to recover from the disaster.
After talking with people who live along the Gulf coast over the past two years, it is clear to me that there is a lot of healing left to do. I believe that kids in particular have a lot to share and their stories can help us understand the true impacts of this tragedy. We must learn from it if we’re ever going to keep it from happening again.
Here on this 2-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, let us pause for a moment and reflect on the lives lost and the lives forever changed as a result of this disaster. Let us not forget that this was unprecedented in scope, and the impacts are still being felt today. Let us remember the children who still grapple with the effects on their families and the environment that they call home. And finally, let us be open to learning from this disaster. This is the way we can respect the losses endured and honor the many sacrifices that have been made in the 2 years since the Deepwater Horizon blowout.
To support our efforts to document the plight of kids along the Gulf coast, visit the Support page and find out how you can get involved.