Friday, July 16, 2010
Do you see that white tent there?
That is one of the many staging areas BP has set up throughout the Gulf region.
Under that tent are boxes of gloves and boots and flash lights and coolers and cases of water and hats and rain gear and personal first aid kits. The list goes on and on.
And it's all free. That's right, it's free to anyone with an I.D. that proves he or she is working on the oil spill clean up.
The reason it exists is to provide "Regular Joe" with a 20 ft boat, the safety equipment he needs to perform his task safely.
The guys on our barge took advantage of it and returned with all kinds of protective gear, for the 16 extra people that will be temporarily living aboard the barge with them. That's why that tent is there. It serves a great purpose. If you are hired by BP to help right their wrong, BP will provide, free of charge all the equipment you need to work safely.
I can't help but wonder how much abuse this generous system is taking. The reason I ask that is because, all of a sudden, our tug has extra flashlights, extra gloves, cases of Gatoraid, first aid kits and enough boots to fill a 40 gallon trash can.
The problem as I see it is this. Sure, we on the tug, are working for BP, so legally our crew members have the right to treat BP's staging area like our own personal garage sale.
But since we are on the tug, we will not be coming in contact physically with any of the oil that has escaped from this very famous well. Our only job will be to tow our retrofitted barge and the men who will be coming in contact with the oil, through the fouled areas. They will need the equipment.
The hundreds and hundreds of fishing boats that have reworked their boats into oil skimmers, will need the equipment. We, on the tug, will not.
The thousands of people, former waitress and out of work construction workers, sopping up oil soaked booms from the marshes in 98 degree heat will need the Gatoraid. We will not.
Our tug is air conditioned and we carry plenty of water.
On a normal day our boat has more safety gear than you can shake a stick at. If we need hats or gloves or boots etc., all we have to do is order it through the company.
One of our deckhands is planning on visiting the "free table" before we leave so he can pick up one of those top of the line Igloo coolers on wheels so he can take it home with him.
If the "system" abuse that I've witnessed is any indication of what it's like as a whole, can you imagine?
I don't know, it's just not right.