By Jim Hagerty
More than a dozen protesters from the Rockford area MoveOn.org chapter braved driving rain and chilly temperatures Tuesday, June 8, to protest across from the BP (British Petroleum) fuel station at 315 N. Mulford Road.
The group voiced its concern about the aftermath of the massive April oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The disaster was caused by a faulty underwater oil well and the explosion on a BP-contracted oil rig. The blast killed 11 crew members.
Those on hand at the protest held signs urging BP to take responsibility for the disaster, which, since April 21, has continued to pour crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of approximately 4 million gallons per day.
Demonstrators said protesting near a BP station is fitting, and hope to send a message to motorists and anyone who passes by the familiar green and yellow signage.
“We are interested in raising public awareness,” Gaen McClendon said. “There is a BP station across the street, and there is a lot of traffic. We don’t have any gripe with employees of BP locally or those on the national level. But the organization they work for and support is dedicated solely to profit and not to taking care of the impact their organization has on the environment.”
Some demonstrators spoke directly to BP, calling on the company to take ownership of the catastrophe and help those struggling through the after-effects.
“BP needs to do something about what (it) did down in the Gulf. There are so many people down there that lost their jobs and are losing everything,” Betty Diehl added. “And the wildlife doesn’t have a voice of opinion. They are dying. Everybody needs to be pulling together and telling BP what we feel about this. It’s time to take a stand.”
The oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, was pumping from a well about a mile into the sea when it exploded April 20. It sank into the gulf the next day. BP crews have been attempting to stop the well cap from causing further carnage.
Transocean, the company that owned the vessel, was commissioned as a drilling contractor for BP at the time of the explosion.
During a congressional hearing last month, BP Vice President James Dupree testified that a faulty valve was producing “discrepancies” in pressure levels according to tests done before the blast.
The tests were done to monitor the safety of the rig and well, which was designed to keep natural gas out of the pipeline.
Dupree’s testimony also revealed another contractor at the well site had just finished cement work hours before the explosion. Transocean reps also said there was something suspicious before the accident.
“There was something happening in the well bore that shouldn’t be happening,” Steven Newman, Transocean’s chief executive officer, said.
Meantime, organizations such as MoveOn.org are urging the federal government and BP to move quickly to thwart further environmental damage and expansion of the spill area, which, at press time, included more than 125 miles of the Louisiana coast.
From the June 9-15, 2010 issue