Louisiana Residents Travel to Say Spill Troubles Remain

October 18, 2011

Terrebonne and Lafourche parish residents, including fishermen and Houma Indians, are traveling across the country to share their insight on the Gulf’s recovery from last year’s oil spill.

They’ll be in San Francisco later this month for a meeting hosted by the nonprofit Friends of New Orleans, The Courier reported.

They say it is important to spread the word about continuing problems as the spill and its aftermath fade from national memory.

Speakers will include Rebecca Templeton, head of Bayou Grace, a social-service and environmental nonprofit in Chauvin.

Templeton said many environmental problems related to the oil spill may still be developing. LSU researchers recently discovered oil-related reproductive and development problems in small marsh fish.

“There are still problems with the claims process even all this time later. And the shrimping season is a disappointment, and fishermen are fearful of it getting worse,” she said.

Even those who have tried to pursue job-retraining programs have difficulty taking advantage of them because they don’t know how they’ll support their families while they’re enrolled, she said.

Brenda Dardar-Robichaux, former chief of the United Houma Nation, said locals went to Washington, D.C., last year on a similar trip to talk to lawmakers.

“Unfortunately there’s a perception that our life is back to normal,” Dardar-Robichaux said. “Our people our safe. Our beaches are clean. And those of us who are living here every day know that’s not a reality.”

Sharon Gauthe, co-founder of a nonprofit advocacy group called Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing, said she wants to use her time in California to talk about coastal land loss, a problem for decades.

“We are losing our land, and the people too,” Gauthe said. “We want to make them realize how valuable this area is to the rest of the country.”

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