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The 90 Day Plan

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Suburban native works to save fragile Gulf Coast

Daily Herald
By Robert McCoppin | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 5/6/2010 11:44 AM

He used to canoe down the Des Plaines River and swim as a lifeguard in suburban pools. Now his love of water is prompting Kristian Anders Gustavson to venture to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gustavson was in New Orleans Thursday to begin documenting the effects of the BP oil spill that was spewing an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf each day.

A Libertyville native and founder of the waterway conservation group Below the Surface, Gustavson is working with camera crews to film sensitive areas of the Gulf Coast, such as the Gulf Islands National Seashore and barrier islands, before they get hit by the spill, and after, if necessary.

The goal is to get a baseline picture of the coast, how it's affected by the oil, and how effective cleanup efforts are.

Just as when he watched film of games as a football player at Libertyville High School, the 25-year-old Gustavson hopes the film will help us learn from mistakes.

Gustavson is one of many current and former suburban residents who have volunteered to respond to the oil spill, which began with an oil rig explosion April 20.

Click to enlarge

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana registered more than 100 Illinois residents to help with the cleanup, but they had not been mobilized because the spill had not reached landfall.

Likewise, the National Audubon Society is signing up volunteers but not mobilizing them, as weather patterns temporarily held the oil slick off shore.

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago also is gearing up to respond to the spill, spokesman Roger Germann said.

Gustavson, who now lives in San Diego, was already familiar with the New Orleans area because of a previous project.

In February, Gustavson explored the Atchafalaya River, which branches off the Mississippi River and runs through the largest swamp in the country to the Gulf, where its deposits are helping to rebuild the coastline.

The area is Cajun country, home to 800-year-old cypress trees and a prime candidate for flooding, so Gustavson was studying conservation efforts there. He said his work will be featured in the June issue of Reader's Digest.

"The Gulf coast has sort of lured me in," Gustafson said. "It's a phenomenal place with a lot of history that's often overlooked. I've really come to respect and cherish this area."

Closer to home, the Shedd Aquarium has contacted officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as local conservation groups, and is waiting to see what expertise is needed.

When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ruptured in Alaska in 1989, the aquarium sent a team of experts to help clean and rehabilitate oil-fouled sea otters.

Three of those orphaned otter pups, unable to be returned to the wild, still live at the Shedd.

The Shedd also helped with an oil spill that affected penguins in South Africa in the 1990s, and this past winter with mass sea turtle strandings during the cold snap in Florida.

In the Gulf coast, two endangered species of great concern to marine ecologists are the Brown Pelican and sea turtles.

"We're prepared to go down there," Germann said. "We're just waiting for the call on how we can help."

1 comment:

  1. Article from Las Vegas Review Journal:

    The workers who are cleaning up the oil in the Gulf need to be aware of the chemicals that will be used for the cleaning. Oil companies do not care about human health issues that arise from their toxic chemicals. I am one of the 11,000+ cleanup workers from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, who is suffering from health issues from that toxic cleanup, without compensation from Exxon.

    There is an on going lawsuit with VECO's insurance company, the company Exxon contracted for hiring employees. Please read my article below for more information.

    The Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Leaves Exxon’s Collateral Damaged

    My name is Merle Savage; a female general foreman during the EVOS beach cleanup in 1989, which turned into 20 years of extensive health deterioration for me and many other workers. Dr. Riki Ott visited me in 2007 to explain about the toxic spraying on the beaches. She also informed me that Exxon's medical records and the reports that surfaced in litigation brought by sick workers in 1994, had been sealed from the public, making it impossible to hold Exxon responsible for their actions.

    Dr. Riki Ott has devoted her life to taking control from corporations and giving it back to We The People. If corporations continue to control our legal system, then We The People become victims.

    Dr. Riki Ott has written two books; Sound Truth & Corporate Myth$ and Not One Drop. Dr. Ott has investigated and studied the oil spill spraying, and quotes numerous reports in her books, on the toxic chemicals that were used during the 1989 Prince William Sound oily beach cleanup. Black Wave the Film is based on Not One Drop, with interviews of EVOS victims; my interview was featured in the section; Like a War Zone.

    Exxon developed the toxic spraying; OSHA, the Coast Guard, and the state of Alaska authorized the procedure; VECO and other Exxon contractors implemented it. Beach crews breathed in crude oil that splashed off the rocks and into the air -- the toxic exposure turned into chronic breathing conditions and central nervous system problems, along with other massive health issues. Some of the illnesses include neurological impairment, chronic respiratory disease, leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, liver damage, and blood disease.
    Please view the 7 minute video that validates my accusations.

    My web site is devoted to searching for EVOS cleanup workers who were exposed to the toxic spraying, and are suffering from the same illnesses that I have. Our summer employment turned into a death sentence for many -- and a life of unending medical conditions for the rest of us.


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