July 7, 2010; Source: Huffington Post | One of the many volunteers in the Gulf is Rikki Ott of Alaska, who here relates her first hand impressions of BP’s efforts to minimize the public health dangers to beachgoers in Pensacola even when they are being given “all clear” signs by workers. Ms. Ott should know: She is a marine toxicologist and “has authored two books on the Exxon Valdez oil spill—Sound Truth and Corporate Myths on biological effects of oil on people and animals, and Not One Drop on “the emotional impact of disaster trauma and litigation to people and community.”
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Meanwhile, a large community of Vietnamese workers—fishermen, deckhands, oyster shuckers, shrimp packers and hotel and restaurant workers—have been rendered jobless by the spill and small community centers in that area and others are working hard to provide aid. This article estimates that of the 40,000 Southeast Asians that live along the Gulf, 80 percent have been affected. Their ability to get re-employed and get help in the meantime may be severely compromised by any number of factors, including cultural and language barriers and the fact that many have been paid in cash, leaving them unprotected relative to any claims they might file against BP. Vietnamese-based Community Centers have been working hard to intervene but there is no doubt that this will be a severe blow, with generations of consequences for this community.—Ruth McCambridge