UPDATE: BP oil spill gets closer to home.
Today I ran into Michael M. Koehler, while reporting in the field on my Anthony Pisano story in the East Village. I became friends with Koehler – a professional photographer and NYU Tisch Alum – after I wrote an artist profile about him in 2009. Since then, I have collaborated sporadically with Koehler. I did a photo project on him in Spring 2010 which I posted here the other day.
Koehler has just come back from Louisiana, where he was photographing the increasing devastation of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its nearby coasts. Today, CNN covered a press conference where Admiral Thad Allen – who is heading Obama’s relief efforts – answered questions about the Government’s approach to the problem.
On top of the environmental damages that the oil spill is inflicting on the Gulf, a secondary effect is increasing job loss of Louisiana’s Shrimp fishermen who have not been able to do their job. (Think Forest Gump, but much worst, because the boats aren’t ruined – the catch is.)
While BP has hired some of these out-of-work fishermen to join clean-up efforts, they have not been given the necessary safety equipment to carry on the tasks at hand. The combined toxicity of the oil and the chemical dispersants (which are illegal in many countries and have been banned in the U.K.) that BP is using to break-down that oil, has caused the company to recall several clean-up boats due to their crews suffering health problems. (The New York Times covered that specific story here.)
Koehler has many contacts who he has documented in and around NOLA, one of which is Ricky Robin, a seventh generation shrimper in Bernard Parish, LA. Robin and his boat are now working for BP to help boom the waters of the Barrier Islands.