The beach BP won't allow reporters to visit
Mac McClelland at Mother Jones gives a gripping on-the-ground account of BP's efforts to keep journalists away from the oil-soaked beaches
For all the articles being written about the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there is still relatively little detail available about the situation on the shoreline, where waves laden with crude oil are lapping against beaches and marshland. Perhaps, suggests Mac McClelland in Mother Jones, that's because BP is making sure that even though it can't seem to plug up the oil leak, it can stem the flow of damaging news stories emerging from the Gulf coast:
"It's Saturday, May 22nd, a month into the BP spill, and I've been trying to get to Elmer's Island for the past two days. I've been stymied at every turn by Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies brought in to supplement the local police force of Grand Isle, a 300-year-old settlement here at the very southern tip of Louisiana.
When I tell [BP representative] Barbara [Martin] I am a reporter, she stalks off and says she's not talking to me, then comes back and hugs me and says she was just playing. I tell her I don't understand why I can't see Elmer's Island unless I'm escorted by BP. She tells me BP's in charge because 'it's BP's oil.'
'But it's not BP's land.'
'But BP's liable if anything happens.'
'So you're saying it's a safety precaution.'
'Yeah! You don't want that oil gettin' into your pores.'
'But there are tourists and residents walking around in it across the street.'
'The mayor decides which beaches are closed.' So I call the Grand Isle police requesting a press liason, only to get routed to voicemail for 'Melanie' with BP. I call the police back and ask why they gave me a number for BP; they blame the fire chief.
I reach the fire chief. 'Why did the police give me a number for BP?' I ask.
'That's the number they gave us.'