Kindra Arnesen, a young mother of two 8 and 5 year-old children, and
the wife of a commercial fisherman in Louisiana, became extremely concerned
about the lack of progress of the relief operations of the BP oil disaster
in the Gulf of Mexico.
had the opportunity to investigate on the spot by participating in
a number of meetings with authorities, and in on-site 'clean-up'
vividly and powerfully describes, at the Gulf
Emergency Summit in New Orleans, the harsh reality of what’s
really going in the area - and the need to prepare for evacuation of
Thank you. OK, I'm not usually a speech-giver. So, you guys try to
bear with me; I'll try to make this as painless as possible.
To explain to you where I live, I am indeed the one on the very end. I
am at Point 5 on Highway 23 in South Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
Keep in mind through what I have to say, that I am the mother of a
five-year-old little boy and an eight-year-old little girl who look
like their dad.
That being said, when this first happened, I really didn't know what to
do, who to ask questions to, who was going to give us answers.
The first day 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 and we're here to take care of
everything, folks. Well, 61 days later, that's a joke, to say the
Just to give you guys kind of a perspective of where I've been: Four
weeks ago, I stood up at a town hall meeting and I indeed did pin down
all involved and I had them stuttering by the end of their speech.
At any rate, I was invited the following week to go behind "enemy lines".
They gave me, of all people, security clearance to go into the base
of operations meetings in Venice, Louisiana.
8 a.m., open door invitation to sit like a fly on the wall. Can you
believe it? It's really going on.
They also gave me security clearance to go into the Homeland Incident
Command Post which is over the entire region of Louisiana. I've been in
Coast Guard planes all the way out to the site itself.
Helicopters. Boat rides. I have been everywhere anybody could ever want
to go to really get an inside look as to what's going on.
Now, I want to start by telling you guys that I am not at all
impressed. Someone told me this morning that they thought I had crossed
over. Well, I picked a team a long time ago. My father was a commercial
fisherman and my husband's a commercial fisherman. Every man that I've
even known, loved, and respected is on the water. They're good men.
At any rate, for the past week I've heard in the ops meeting: We
need to cut cost. Yes, that is what they said, that they need to
cut cost. I almost came out of my chair the first time I heard it. But
I'm trying to stay where I am because someone has to be on the inside
overlooking and seeing as to what's going on around. That being said,
where I've seen cutting costs is quite unfortunate. What we
call, in Venice, what they call...
First we've gotta understand this phrase: ponies and balloons.
Well, the only place I've ever seen ponies and balloons is at a circus.
Right? At any rate, about a week-and-a-half in, I learned what ponies
balloons meant. Ponies and balloons means that every
time an official is headed anywhere near here, they get a heads up. All
assets are deployed into the hardest hit areas.
The official comes in, flies over, Good job, fellas, pats ‘em
on the back. When that official disappears out of the hardest hit area,
so does 75 to 80 percent of the response. It's happening. It's
happening every day. I'm watching it. I'm seeing it. I don't agree with
it. Anyone in this room's not gonna agree with it. Anyone in our great
nation's not gonna agree with it.
We are expendable to these people. We do not matter.
Now, I'm gonna get off that and I'm sorry I talk in circles, but that's
the coonass in me. As y'all follow me, then just let me know.
At any rate, I'm gonna go into the health issues for a moment, if you
don't mind. I sat through endless hours of meetings with BP's safety
officers. I sat through an hour and 45 minute meeting with the Coast
Guard Safety Officer, both in the Homeland Incident Command Post, as
well as a gentleman from OSHA.
In order to obtain a respirator for our responders — now this isn't
just commercial fishermen — I'm talking about Coast Guard members, all
responders, people off the street, everybody involved.
Number 1: They have to fill out an OSHA questionnaire.
Number 2: They have to have a physical evaluation by a medical
But, EPA is doing air monitoring. Everything's OK. It's great. Yeah,
At any rate, there is in fact some Act somewhere in OSHA's law, that
says that volunteers have a right to wear a volunteer respirator.
we all know, BP is taking over our Gulf. BP rules right now,
our Gulf, I mean... Bottom line, that's who's in charge of the
They couldn't even run their own company and they are in charge of this
response! I'm totally appalled!
They can't wear a volunteer respirator because if they're not properly
trained... BP's rules are, they have to be properly trained in order to
wear a respirator. Now, BP said that they will provide the training and
they will provide a respirator. But, everything's OK! So, they don't
need to be trained and they don't need a respirator. 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 seven men that were brought, one by
helicopter and six by ambulance... 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 one response from Mr. Hayward was food poisoning. Four
different boats, all in… way away from each other. Food poisoning.
Second response was heat exhaustion.
Then last Wednesday — I'm sorry, Wednesday a week ago — when I sat with
OSHA and BP's Safety Officer, the OSHA man informed me that all four
boats took Pine Sol, sprayed it all over their boats, and then sat and
breathed in the fumes all day long and that's what caused the chemical
Hold on a second! I've been on boats all my life. I've been with
captains all over the place. When we spray something on our boat, we
wash it right off. If not, it eats the paint off the boat. We take care
of our stuff.
So that right there was just a blatant out lie. So, then I asked them —
I throwed one out of left field at them — I said: Well what about
the people on 9/11?
He said: It's funny you asked about that, because I was working
that job. We were following them around with respirators, begging them
to put them on.
And he actually pointed the finger at our New York Firefighters. Yeah,
he did! People who are dying a slow death as we sit in this room right
now, from chemical poisoning; pointing the finger at them and said that
they turned around and gave him the one finger salute, and said: We're
a respirator, we're looking for our friends.
Trained firefighters? In New York? Are you serious?
I wanted to just slap him in the face! But, I was good.
At any rate, you know, my children have broke out in four rashes. My
child broke out in a rash the first time. I took her to Florida for
four days. It magically cleared up. I brought her back, she broke out
again. I left, she cleared up. Now today, 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: clearing the throat,
the stickiness, the upper respiratory irritation.
You know, the bottom line here is: this morning I contacted Miss Marla
Cooper, who is District 9 Councilwoman for Plaquemines Parish. And Miss
Marla has three grandchildren in our area and she's just a great
grandparent and a good mom. And I told her: Miss Marla, we have got
to call an evacuation of our area. We can not allow our citizens to
sit like we're out in the middle of the...
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". Folks,
stay inside, put your air conditioning on recirculation. Everything's
Well, why would 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, it's not! Where do you think air comes from
that's in 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 two percent 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
Now, 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.
So basically, this whole ponies and balloons act... If someone
does not come in and properly oversee this response... Our marsh now is
being used as a boom, an overwhelmed boom, a big, giant sponge.
It's on both sides of us. It will fill up, it is filling up,
constantly. We have heavy, heavy crude penetrating our marsh all over
the place right now as we speak. They deploy, and then they pull ‘em
back in when a politician comes in, and this is not acceptable!
They're not cleaning it up; they're covering it up! This is... We're
barely into this. This could go on for years and years and they are
already cutting costs! Cutting costs, cutting corners, and taking
shortcuts is why we're all sitting in this room today.
Enough is enough!
Now, as far as EPA, OSHA, NOAA, BP and Federal Government, they...
Every one of them's in collaboration with each other. That comes from
someone at the top of NOAA. That's the kind of people I've been talking
to. That came from someone at the top of NOAA, that they're all in
collaboration with BP.
Are you serious!?
Who do these people work for?
I thought these were our agencies to protect our better interests, our
world, our Earth, our lives and what is going on here? Are we that
dependent upon these banks, to just roll over and let them poison our
world, and our people in it? This is unacceptable!
A week after this started they want to say: Nothing's going on.
Nothing's dying ? A week after this story, I traveled 70 miles east
of the original site. There was these shells floating all over the top
of the water. Hundreds of thousands of them. They were empty because
they were dead. I've never seen a shell float in my life. Dead. A week
Four weeks ago when the oil was trajected to hit the west side of our
peninsula, I was so mad after I went down to Pascaloocha and seeing
what wasn't being done there, that I got in my boat — my dime, my time
— and I took a trip. I was like Fox national news on my boat.
I traveled from Red Pass 10 mile... to Four Bayous, about 10 miles, the
east side of Grand Isle.
Now, the oil was trajected to hit that side of the peninsula that day.
30 miles! I did not run into one responder! I did not run into one
piece of boom, hard or soft. 150 feet of sandbags on a 30 mile stretch
of shoreline. This is unacceptable!
So, I decided on the way back, well let me just go out on the coast
a little bit and see what's going on. I ran into oil 3/4 of a mile
off our coast. Not sheen. Crude. As I'm traveling along back towards
Red Pass, I looked over the Gulf and I notice that there's big swarms
of birds. That's not unusual. I figured they was diving on bait. But
what where they diving into oil sheen? Because birds don't know any
We traveled out towards the birds. I wanted to see what they were
diving into. I was... I want to know. As we get out to the birds...
I don't know if you've been on the water much, or even if you've seen
a big school of fish. They have like a boil in the water. It looks
like a pot boiling. The fish boil the water; it moves. As we drift
into it, it's big Bull Reds with their mouths open, on top of the water,
laying sideways, swimming upside down in a circle.
Again, hundreds of thousands of them, school after school after school.
They were dying. They were so disoriented that they were running into
the side of my boat.
[unclear question from the audience]
That's a real good question. Fox national news swears it's on their
website, but I've search it up and down. I've even... You know what?
I've got the camera man's phone number in my purse right there. We can
call him after and find out exactly where it's at. I've called and
asked them for it over and over again, and they won't give it to me.
You know what? Everybody is saying a media blackout, a media
Yes ma'am, there is a media blackout. Sydney, Australia's 60 Minutes
came over and they did a real nice piece. I watched it on their
website. The transcript is still there. 24 hours after the video hit
the website, it disappeared.
[Ed note: it can be seen here.]
You know, as far as the fisherman can catch
shrimp elsewhere comment,
I want to make something real clear. We have been fighting imports
and regulations for the last 20 years. They have regulated us to
the point, as commercial fisherman, that my husband personally
has seven different permits. The only thing that my husband does
not do is oyster.
So, if there's shrimp somewhere else, or we can use gill net or
whatever we need to do in order to provide a food source for this
country, a natural way to feed people, then somebody point me in that
direction and let me know where it is, because I've looked all over
I came back here four-and-a-half years ago and rebuilt on dirt because
this is my home and I love Louisiana. I live right out in the middle
of nowhere in the boondocks. The bottom line here is, that if the
country does not stand up and say no more...
We must take action. We cannot sit back. And if this stuff does not
stop, guys, this is gonna go global. It will destroy one-third of the
world's water. Bank on it! If they do not stop this — every ocean is
connected — it will go on and on and on.
As my daughter says: infinity plus two.
I'll take any questions after. Thank you for listening.