Story Updates

  • Community Health Forum in Orange Beach Tuesday

    There will be a community forum for the public concerned about health effects from the BP oil spill on Tuesday, Sept. 7, in Orange Beach Alabama.

    We have a story about this issue in the pipeline at if any news organization wants to talk about running it.

    Here’s the flyer for the event.

    health-forum_flyer9-7.jpg Posted by Glynn Wilson on 09/07/10
  • 8/18/10
  • LSU Professor Brings Independent Science to Gulf Oil Debate

    A Dozen Carcinogenic Compounds Fill the Air in the Gulf

    Filmed by Gavin Garrison

    Interviewer Heather Rally

    The Obama administration, based largely on BP data, recently released scientific estimates indicating roughly three-quarters of the oil from BP's Gulf of Mexico gusher was captured, burned, dispersed, evaporated, degraded or dissolved in the water. Now a number of independent scientists are coming forward with independent results as well as a re-analysis of the government and BP's data. The real story might be that as much as 79 percent of the oil flood from the Deepwater Horizon remains looming under the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, still posing a very real short- and long-term  threat to the marine ecosystem and public health along the coast.

    In this video interview, Dr. Vincent Wilson, a Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Louisiana State University, talks about the carcinogenic effects of the oil and chemical dispersants in the air that people are breathing all along the coast and inland, as the oil and chemical dispersant residue invades the clouds above it and comes back to earth as a poisonous rain. 

    Some of Dr. Wilson's research interests include: toxicology of environmental pollutants and genotoxic agents; molecular genetic processes involved in carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, aging, and genetic diseases; environmental biomonitoring of genotoxic exposure to feral species; species-specific identification and microbial communities.

    We will interview more experts as well as people suffering such health effects on our next trip to the coast. Independent watchdog groups are critical to documenting this story, as is the alternative, independent, watchdog Web Press.

    Also support groups such as Project Gulf Impact. The group's mission is to document the economic, environmental and human health impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This project seeks to provide a voice for residents of the Gulf and hopes to capture the social, political and environmental climate surrounding one of the greatest environmental disasters of our time.

    Our role as analytical journalists is to turn this information into a public narrative, so informed citizens may obtain a better understanding upon which to make the best public policy decisions. Democracy does not work without a watchdog press. We've known that since before 1776.

    For more information, follow our news links page and the blog front page.

    Don't forget to take the survey. Every little bit helps. I'm not kidding...

    Posted by Glynn Wilson on 08/18/10
  • 8/11/10
  • As Oil Well is Capped and Cleanup Shifts, Gulf Residents Fear Abandonement



    The British Petroleum Corporation is finishing capping the Deepwater Horizon oil well and the cleanup effort in the Gulf of Mexico and on beaches and in the marshes is shifting.

    Most of the national television news crews have gone back to New York, Washington and Atlanta. The cable news networks have stopped showing the images of the well under the sea floor and the horrific pictures of dead birds covered in crude.

    Congress is in recess, getting ready for the mid-term elections in November, and the Obama administration has changed the subject to the national economy and the war in Afghanistan.

    Yet the people along the coast are still sick from the water and air pollution and out of work due to the oil spill's devastating impacts on the local economy.

    Who will continue to tell the stories of the environmental and economic destruction along the Gulf coast? Only those of us on the Web Press, of course, who know this story is far from over.

    Under the Oil Pollution Act, passed in 1990 in the wake of the Valdez spill, a Natural Resource Damage Assessment was established by law to determine the type and amount of restoration needed to compensate the public for harm to natural resources, along with their human uses, that occur as a result of an oil spill.

    While it is still too early in the process to know what the scope of the assessment will be, from past experience, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is concerned about impacts to fish, shellfish, marine mammals, turtles, birds and other sensitive resources as well as their habitats, including wetlands, beaches, mudflats, bottom sediments, coral reefs -- and the water column itself.

    There is a huge unanswered question still unanswered in the Gulf, in addition to the air quality issue and the long-term health impacts of the oil and chemical dispersants on wildlife and people.

    Back on July 5, I wrote a story under the headline, Where Oh Where Have All the Wildlife Gone? Is BP Green Washing the Dead Wildlife Count?

    We still do not know the answer, and no other news organization in the country is asking this question.

    It takes resources to do this kind of investigative journalism. I have the skills, the experience and the will to get to the bottom of this story, but it takes significant resources to do it. That's why I've teamed up with -- to raise the revenue to continue covering this story, so the people and the wildlife of the Gulf are not forgotten.

    Will you help? Even a little?

    Posted by Glynn Wilson on 08/11/10
  • 7/28/10
  • People on the Gulf Coast Suffer Health Problems



    Officials Say All is OK, Come on Down

    From the Gulf coast of Louisiana to the Mississippi Delta, to Alabama and the white sand beaches of Florida, people are suffering flu-like effects obviously caused by the pollution from oil and chemicals not only in the water. The oil and chemical dispersants are making their way into the air too, although officials will only say their monitoring shows everything is safe.

    As the multi-national British Petroleum corporation continues to test what’s left of the Deepwater Horizon oil well 50 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico to see if the latest well cap will hold back the gusher and not blow out the sea floor, residents along the coast are still concerned about the quality of the air they are breathing in addition to the polluted water.

    While the people are suffering from this strange "summer flu," some states and localities are using millions of dollars donated by BP to promote their beach communities, in many cases where the water is not fit to swim in and the air is not safe to breath.

    The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to be monitoring the air as well as the water, but so far, the monitoring stations set up along the coast are not showing highly dangerous levels of pollutants in the air. There have been citizens complaints about the location of the monitoring stations, sometimes far inland of direct impact zones where people live on the beaches.

    As citizens struggle to get solid information upon which to make informed decisions about how to protect the health of their families, some say good data is hard to find.

    On EPA’s Web site set up to provide information to the press and the public, the agency says it has observed odor-causing pollutants associated with oil on the shore in the Gulf region “at low levels.”

    “Some of these chemicals may cause short-lived effects like headache, eye, nose and throat irritation, or nausea,” the agency says, yet it adds: “Some people may be able to smell several of these chemicals at levels well below those that would cause short-term health problems.”

    EPA is also conducting additional air monitoring for ozone and airborne particulate matter.

    “The air monitoring conducted through July 14 has found levels of ozone and particulates ranging from the ‘good’ to ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups,’ the agency says, referring to levels on EPA’s Air Quality Index.

    Air Quality Along the Gulf Coast Raises Questions

    We are working on an investigation of the air monitoring system itself as well as what the data shows, and interviewing people on camera who have suffered health effects from exposure to the oil and chemicals in the air.

    Posted by Glynn Wilson on 07/28/10
  • 7/28/10
  • Health problems from the Spill

    While there are sporadic reports of people along the Gulf Coast suffering health problems related to the polluted air from BP's massive oil spill, the news just gets out in dribs and drabs from local news briefs showing 106 people  in one city treated for "oil-related conditions." While residents struggle to obtain solid information on which to base a decision on whether to stay or leave the coast, local health departments and government officials tend to downplay the threats in the interest of promoting tourism.

    What is needed is a comprehensive, journalistic investigation across the Gulf from Texas to Florida compiling the most complete information on air and water quality and health issues, played alongside some key stories from people in the region struggling to deal with the effects on a daily basis.

    It takes resources to travel the Gulf Coast and produce stories and videos, so most of the money would go toward paying for gas, food and lodging, as well as equipment-related expenses.

    I've been a journalist for 30 years, taught it for a decade, and was one of the first environmental journalism specialists in the U.S. back in the 1980s, a charter member of the Society of Environmental Journalists in 1990, a year I won funding as a fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    I've been published in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Dallas Morning News, The Nation magazine, and in some of the best alternative weeklies in the country, as well as my own Web publications, The Southerner magazine and The Locust Fork News-Journal, where I've been covering BP's oil spill from the beginning.

    Posted by Glynn Wilson on 07/28/10
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