BP tells cleanup workers no photos of dead, oil-covered marine life

BP crews unload oil booms from a boat at a staging area in Venice, La. Watch the live video feed of the leak. | Steven Johnson / Miami Herald / MCT

Oh boy.

“When we found this dolphin it was filled with oil. Oil was just pouring out of it. It was the saddest darn thing to look at,” said a BP contract worker who took the Daily News on a surreptitious tour of the wildlife disaster unfolding in Louisiana.

His motive: simple outrage.

“There is a lot of coverup for BP. They specifically informed us that they don’t want these pictures of the dead animals. They know the ocean will wipe away most of the evidence. It’s important to me that people know the truth about what’s going on here,” the contractor said.

For good reason, there has been a lot of public outrage over BP’s “iron fist” handling of the spill zone. MoJo’s Mac McClelland has been reporting on the media blackout.

when I ran into some packing up on the Grand Isle beach twenty minutes later, I asked them only if they were done working for the day, and they refused to tell me. One woman said, “I can’t talk to you,” and then another worker ran up to her and grabbed her arm and said, “Just ignore her, ignore her,” and the whole interaction was unsettlingly rude and sort of sad.

BP has quartered off the coast like its guarding a war zone. The company chased a CBS news crew from a beach in South Pass, Louisiana when they tried to film a thick coat of oil, and CEO Tony “I just want my life back” Hayward famously barked orders at a cameraman as if he was a visiting king walking among peasants.

In a sane world, a company guilty of gross negligence that resulted in the deaths of 11 workers would be under criminal investigation, and not be parading around the coast, telling the media where they can go and who they can talk to, while forbidding their clean-up crews from wearing protective gear.

Law enforcement doesn’t handle other crimes like this. Cops don’t let serial killers tidy up their crime scenes after they’re done a’stabbin’.


  1. PeopleB4Profit

    This is censorship! I have uncles who have died to make sure that this would never happened in this country. I willingly put my life on the line for my country to make sure this would never happened here.
    Where are the tea baggers and fake new’s outrage about the true violations of our rights. The right to know the truth.

  2. Ooga Booga

    Screw bp. They have no right to censor anything…they do not own the land or ocean they soiled. I have heard reports of police departments being complicitous in enforcing bp’s media blackout. Those police departments, as well as bp, should be criminally charged.

  3. Felix Holt

    That is fucked.

  4. bigyaz

    I hate what BP has done as much as anyone, but if you’re working for a company, whether as a contract worker or employee, it has every right to tell you not to speak to the media about the company. In fact, it’s very common.

    Now, if BP tries to block the media from filming or shooting pictures or otherwise covering the story on public land and seas, that’s unacceptable. (But it’s still not censorship; look up the definition before you start throwing that word around.)

  5. Richard

    If this happened in a movie I would be disappointed for the lack of realism. “No corporation would be aloud to tell Americans what to do in a situation like that.” I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone hearing about cops taking orders from BP and foreign executives yelling at cameramen like they’re children. This is crazy. I would rather someone string them up, pour that oil on them, and set them on fire.

  6. mirta

    lLA verdad me sorprende lo que sucede ahí paro lo que mas me extraña es que teniendo la tecnología que tienen no puedan parar esto. ESPERO PRONTO SE SOLUCIONE ESTO PUES DESPUÉS SE VERÁN TODAS LAS COSAS OCULTAS QUE ESTÁN AHORA SALDRÁN A LA LUZ .pero ya sera demasiado tarde de la destrucción ecológica que se hizo .Sin agua pura sin animales sin vegetación………..

  7. Sab

    I would tell anyone to go fuck themselves if they said I couldn’t film anything.

  8. Funonymous

    Bigyaz, they do have every right to create as closed and restrictive a contract as they can get someone to willingly sign if they want to work for them, non competes in tech contracts and NDA’s come to mind there, personally I think its horrible, but as the law stands such asymmetrical and freedom restricting documents do count as contracts if both parties sign on. The issue here, as I see it anyway, is that BP should not, in any way, be overseeing and dictating the terms of the cleanup of their mess which would deal with the issue of their iinfosec perimeter by disallowing its staffing and maintenance.
    It seems a good deal of this situation comes down to ‘BP has the right to do these things because they took the initiative and left everyone else to yell about it while they were the ones doing it.’ If any level of government jumped up and took initiative, BP’s interaction with their mess could have been contained at the point where their insurance company was getting bills from various state and 3rd party agencies and companies, and the things taken under the public tab could have safeguards for transparent data collection and display, at this point the ONLY potential good that can come from the situation is the open and honest assessment of the data that can be collected, which could aid later cleanups, help to mitigate damage when things do go wrong, and potentially make a lot of people and organizations a good amount of money, as wisely used and collected information has a tendency to do. Even from a business perspective, I’m sure their shareholders were relatively happy at the time with whatever basis point jumps in returns their corner cutting on safety were bringing in, but now they have taken a 15% hit in stock price in a day, and their attempts to restrict access to the site are going to look wonderful in court due to that whole “concealment and lying about an incident indicate foreknowledge of guilt” line of reasoning.
    At all times they were acting in what they thought was their self interest, and at every point they are screwing themselves worse in the long run. I’m curious who told local police and the US Coast Guard that they were taking the lead from BP in the first place, and what justifications they are using to privately police the whole region, as someone stated before, renting the seabed does not mean they have control of the water above it. Sooner or later someone will push this moment to its crisis, and then we will see if a private company can order public authorities to arrest and detain private citizens and journalists in a Federal Disaster Zone, and what BP will say when they face the first class action of disaster workers who now have huge medical bills for all that benzine and methane and such that BP forced them to breathe by forcing them to leave the hasmat gear in the car, and then the lawyers on all sides will add some blood to the oil.

  9. Tim

    So – if I wanted to come down there with my camera and hang out with you — we could get some good shots? It is so wrong to restrict photographers on public property and especially to use law enforcement as dupes to BP!! Let me know – thank you!!!

  10. FUBP

    The more they try to hide the truth, the more we see it, shame on them!

  11. sunnyone

    Of course we assume this report is true. If they were there then show the pictures of the death and destruction. instead you tell us ( and expect us to blindly believe) that you are telling the truth. You know we expect massive kills on the scale of Valdez so you seem to feed into our own predisposed expectations. I say to you as I say to them PROVE IT. you should prove your claims with more than your words and they should prove that they can drill safely. if you cant prove it then shut up. if they cant drill safely then they need to pay up. and pay they will.

  12. Harz

    I am outraged by this. Whats happened to our country? fuck it… Im moving to canada

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    [...] BP tells cleanup workers no photos of dead, oil-covered marine life Oh boy. “When we found this dolphin it was filled with oil. Oil was just pouring out of it. It was the saddest [...] [...]

  14. This is unbelievable. I cannot believe BP is trying to censor this…that is absolutely outrageous. Who do they think they are? It’s not like the whole world is going to not know what they’re doing.

  15. Tim

    ” it has every right to tell you not to speak to the media about the company. In fact, it’s very common.”


    *NOT* when you are forced to perform illegal acts (like covering up the obvious disaster).

  16. You know… I’m actually tempted to hop on board and scream about this, but Sunnyone is right. You need to prove it.

    An anonymous source is not journalism, it’s myth.

  17. They have every right to do what they want, when they are working toward the same ultimate goal as the commander in chief is working toward…which is Global Government.

    What stands in the way of that? The United States…Why else was the fishing/Shrimping industry of the East Coast shoreline, halted, by more subtle means during the past 30 years? (While the great ships of China seen meandering from the shipping lane horizon, till they look as small cities docked ashore, unloading millions of pounds of the same shrimp, and fish to sell in America, where our own shrimp and fishing boat’s wings have been clipped from harvesting)?

    Why were the Independent trucking companies sold up the river to the three largest Rail-Road companies ( 2 of which the US government own) 20 years ago,

    Why were the family farms forced into selling, or foreclosure, and ultimately conglomerated into the Government owned feed and mass live stock companies, 35 years ago?

    Someone commented earlier, that they had heard of Police Departments supporting BP’s Authority over this Ah,Leak, this is no leak, people, it’s an underwater Explosive Gas Bubble, growing larger everyday…and try NOT just local police… but the US Coast Guard…enforcing BP rule….

    Tell me again why the twin towers were so strategically imploded to collapse in their own foot prints….every body sing with me now…
    Bye Bye miss American pie…drove my chevy to the levee but the levee was …bye bye

  18. Stef

    I say take all the damn pictures you want. The truth must come out about this company’s gross negligence! And Tony Hayward can go screw himself for all the good he’s done. He should be in prison, if you ask me (and I know that no one did).

  19. KC

    This whole oil spill cover-up and info black-out is shameless.

  20. ahssan

    Do you really think DB give a care about the environment? If they would, they would not do what they do in the first place.

    In time they know that people will move on. And in time they know that they can re-brand their image with the dirty money that they make. To me that money is blood money at the cost of this environment.

  21. grainp

    BTW, BP just posted $10 billions profit for 1st quarter 2010, they pump about 450,000 barrels a day in the middle east with an average profit of $20/barrel.

    But I am sure they’ll do all they can to pay as little as possible, the only green they care about is the $. Nobody is in business to lose money but some just have no limit.

    And yes I like my car and convenience oil brings us but I wish we could move out of it faster so we don’t have to deal with their greed.

  22. This cover-up is outrageous. Just goes to show that BP has no honor. At all.

  23. Claire

    “if you’re working for a company, whether as a contract worker or employee, it has every right to tell you not to speak to the media about the company. In fact, it’s very common.”

    the issue at stake is NOT corporate. It is environmental. Since when are the oceans BP’s property? Whatever happens in the ocean is BP’s property? Whatever happens to Florida is BP’s property? Is this a joke?

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  25. Lex

    [[Now, if BP tries to block the media from filming or shooting pictures or otherwise covering the story on public land and seas, that’s unacceptable. (But it’s still not censorship]] – bigyaz

    When BP has co-opted local law enforcement into driving journalists off public property, it’s censorship.

    That said, news media have been, by and large, intolerably timid about this. National organizations, at the least, should be going to court and getting TROs against BP and local law enforcement to make damn good and sure their journalists can go anywhere on public property they need to go to do their jobs.

  26. Pingback: Boiling blood « Rational journalist

    [...] failed. As a result, they lost 15 percent of their market share. On top of that, they’re now censoring cleanup workers from taking and posting pictures of the harm they’ve done to the environment, [...]

  27. jon

    pics or it didnt happen

  28. jon

    blahblah blah, reading some comments and you all are realy going greenpeace and all and saying that we’d better off withoud BP and so on yet still the most of you drive cars and yeat their houses on oil/gas. its easy to flame on BP, but start with yourself in stead of complaining on the company that provides you with the stuff most us need the most. all im saying is that we should not go hypocrite on this. it sucks that some envirmoment goes lost, but you cant blam BP or any oil company if you still drive a car on petrol or gas. i say: go hybrid or (clean) electric.

    yeah, big story

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