#4 Assessing the Grand Isle Trip and the Oil Spill's Effects

This post is by New England Aquarium President and CEO Bud Ris with New England Aquarium Chairman Bill Burgess.

As we prepared to board our plane back up to Boston, I asked Bill Burgess, Chairman of the New England Aquarium, for his perspective on what we'd observed during our brief, but highly informative, trip to Grand Isle, Louisiana (see previous posts here, here and here). As a venture capitalist, Bill deals with risk all the time.

Bud Ris: Bill, what is your overall impression of the response effort led by the federal and state governments and BP?

Bill Burgess: There is clearly a huge amount of activity. A lot of people and equipment have been mobilized and are now in place. But we saw only a small fraction of the Gulf coastline just seven miles along Grand Isle. One can only imagine the scale of activity--and the numbers of people involved--throughout the whole stretch of coast along the northern Gulf of Mexico, from Texas to Florida.

Barriers along Grand Isle, as reported on in this previous post.

Bud Ris: It kind of feels like a war doesn't it, like preparing for a major battle?

Bill Burgess: The enormous nature of the challenge to protect wildlife, people and the local way of life that is so heavily tied to the sea was quite something to see. The whole effort is an active laboratory--a laboratory that happens to be located in a very critical and sensitive marine environment.

Vessels photographed in Louisiana.

Bud Ris: What do you think are the biggest risks faced by Grand Isle and other communities along the coast?

Bill Burgess: The long term consequences, for sure. And the big unknown about whether and how the marine environment can rebound. Everything about the local economy is tied to it in some way.

The New England Aquarium contingent and raised houses near Grand Isle.

Bud Ris: Is there anything you saw that can give us hope?

Bill Burgess: The $20 billion fund BP has agreed to set up, and the fact that they seem to be accepting a lot of responsibility, will clearly help. Then there is the scale of the mobilization we saw, and the willingness now to try some new techniques for keeping the oil out of Barataria Bay. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed that some of those measures will work as planned.

Facebook Comments


Post a Comment