Revolution #206, July 4, 2010

Testimony at Emergency Summit

“They are slowly poisoning every person that I’ve ever been close to”

The following is from the testimony given by Kindra Arnesen of Venice, Louisiana, at the Emergency Summit on the Gulf oil disaster that took place June 19 in New Orleans. Arnesen has been a volunteer in the BP-organized cleanup operations. Video of this testimony is on YouTube.


When this first happened I really didn’t know what to do, who to ask questions, who was gonna give answers. The first day when we were introduced to anyone from BP, they came into our building and said “BP does business right.” Yeah, can you believe that? “BP does business right.” Well, 61 days later, that’s a joke.

For the past weeks I’ve heard, in the Ops meetings, “We have to cut costs.” Yes, that’s what they’ve said. I almost came out of my chair the first time I heard that…. They have what they call ponies and balloons. Well, the only place I’ve ever seen ponies and balloons is in the circus. About a week and a half in, I learned what ponies and balloons means. It means every time a big official is headed anywhere near Venice, all assets are deployed into the hardest-hit areas. An official comes in, flies over, pats people on the back, and says “good job fellas.” When that official disappears out of the hardest hit area, so does 75 or 80 percent of the response…

We are expendable to these people. We do not matter.…

I’m gonna go into the health issues for a moment. I’ve sat through endless hours of meetings with BP’s safety officers. I’ve sat through an hour and 45 minute meeting with the Coast Guard safety officer, both in the Houma command post, as well as OSHA [the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration]. In order to obtain a respirator for our responders—now this is everybody, not just our responders, people off the street, everybody involved—number 1, you have to file an OSHA questionnaire. Number 2, they have to have a physical evaluation by a medical professional. But, EPA [the federal Environmental Protection Agency] is doing air monitoring, and telling us everything is OK, it’s great.…

I wish it was law that says volunteers have a right to wear a volunteer respirator. But, as we all know, BP has taken over our Gulf. BP rules right now. Bottom line, that’s who’s in charge of this situation! They couldn’t even run their own company, and now they’re running this response! I’m totally appalled!

So people can’t wear a volunteer respirator, because if they’re not properly trained—BP says people have to be properly trained to wear a respirator. BP says they will provide the respirators, and provide the training; but, “everything’s OK,” and they don’t need respirators. And as far as the “right” to wear volunteer respiration? Guess what? If you don’t follow BP’s rules, you don’t have a job. And that’s what they told me.

Now I asked them to discuss the 7 (injured) men that were brought to hospitals. I asked them if they were at liberty to discuss that with me, and they said, “Yes ma’am, we are.” I guess these guys didn’t realize who they were talking to. Number 1 response, from Mr. Hayward, was food poisoning. Four different boats, all way away from each other—food poisoning. Second response was heat exhaustion. Then, a week ago Wednesday when I sat with OSHA and the BP safety officer, the OSHA man informed me that all 4 boats took Pinesol, sprayed it all over their boats, and then sat and breathed in the fumes all day long, and that’s what caused the chemical poisoning.

I’ve been on boats all my life. When we spray something on a boat, we wash it right off. We take care of the boat. We take care of ourselves. It was just a blatant, out and out lie.

My children have broke out with four rashes. My daughter broke out, I took her to Florida, she magically cleared up. I brought her back, she broke out again. I left, she cleared up. Now she’s broke out again. Not to mention that my beautiful, healthy, straight A student, gorgeous daughter has a double ear infection, upper respiratory problems.

I left and went to Baton Rouge, and as I drove back home, she started clearing her throat from the stickiness, the upper respiratory irritation. You  know, the bottom line here, is this morning I contacted Miss Marla Cooper, of Plaquemines Parish, she’s a wonderful person, and I told her, Miss Marla, we have got to call for an evacuation of our area. We cannot allow our citizens to sit like we’re out in the middle of—we are, this stuff’s on all three sides of my home. I walk outside and there’s a haze. They’re called “bad air days.” They say don’t go out, stay inside and leave your A.C. on.

Well, why do we need to lock ourselves up in our house? Do you really think that’s gonna cut it? Do you really think that’s gonna make the situation better? No, its not. Where do you think the air comes from that’s inside the house—outside the house. These people, they never cease to amaze me. The lack of humanity here! I know that my parish only makes up 2% of Louisiana’s population. But does that make my people expendable?

This is unacceptable! They are slowly poisoning every person that I’ve ever been close to in my entire life. And I’m standing here saying no more. If I ruffle some feathers and make some people mad, so be it. I don’t care. My people are more important to me than their bottom line. And that is my bottom line.

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