Facing the Future as a Media Felon on the Gulf Coast

Georgianne Nienaber Haiti relief worker, investigative journalist, author

The United States Coast Guard considers me a felon now, because I "willfully" want to obtain more photos like these to show you the utter devastation occurring in Barataria Bay, Louisiana as a result of the BP oil catastrophe. If the Coast Guard has its way, all media, not just independent writers and photographers like myself and Jerry Moran, will be fined $40,000 and receive Class D felony convictions for providing the truth about oiled birds and dolphins, in addition to broken, filthy, unmanned boom material that is trapping oil in the marshlands and estuaries. We don't have $40,000 to spare, and have had to scrape the bottoms of our checkbooks as is to hire boats to take us to the devastation the Coast Guard, under the direction of BP, does not want you to see.

Is this photo worthy of a felony conviction?
Deflective boom reality
What BP and Coast Guard do not want you to see
God forbid you should see this
It is now a felony to take more photos of birds like this, wading through oil that broken booms have trapped in rookeries

Here is what BP wants you to believe--kayakers enjoying a peaceful paddle in pristine waters. Does the new boom law apply to them, as well? If so, it is time for BP to redo its public relations photography, unveiled at a community meeting in Houma, or we will have a ton of kayakers as well as journalists clogging Louisiana courts and prisons.

BP Public Relations photo displayed at community meeting in Houma in early June

One to five years in prison is a definite possibility for "willful violation" of the latest Coast Guard directive that flies in the face of the First Amendment. And, I guarantee you that writers and photographers will continue to try our best to use cameras and words to explain to those who have not been there exactly what is happening on our Gulf Shores. If we don't continue to try, Americans will no longer see the images and read the words that have been a voice for the voiceless fishermen and women, coastal residents of the Delta, and the battered wildlife.

Working and reporting from the American Gulf Coast is starting to remind me of working in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where photos and recordings must be hidden on secreted flash drives at border crossings, and where interrogation by drunken border patrols certainly follows if one does not provide a proper "explanation" for visits to certain regions. In 2007 I was accused of being a "spy" and held by the secret police in Goma, DRC for having video of illicit "conservation" activities. Now the same sick feelings of fear, anger and helplessness is stalking my mind as I try to plan for the next round in south Louisiana. Never in my lifetime could I imagine that a foreign company could dictate my ability to move freely and openly in American territorial waters.

Already we have been challenged by the private security firm, Talon, on the oiled beaches of Grand Isle, and hassled by the Coast Guard and Louisiana Wildlife officials for not wearing flotation devices when it was not necessary. The law was on our side then, now the "law" is being used to limit free speech.

What's next? Will media be totally shut down? Will we face assassinations like journalists do in Rwanda? I realize assassination is over-the-top, but when it crosses your mind, even for a moment, you know something is terribly wrong.

On June 30 there was an uptick in press releases flowing from "Unified Command." The notice of the Coast Guard felony directive was buried along with EPA test results on Corexit, Thad Allen's "official" retirement from the Coast Guard, notices about NOAA, oiled wildlife-- at least nine press releases in the space of a few hours.

Ordinarily, these propaganda pieces go in the file folder. The media ban disguised as a safety rule jumped out, but there was much analysis to do regarding the EPA test results on that day. So, the bogus 20- meter (65 feet) "safety zone" surrounding all Deepwater Horizon booming operations and oil had to wait until I could wrap my head around the implications. Frankly, I wanted to ignore it.

The Coast Guard directive states, "The safety zone has been put in place to protect members of the response effort, the installation and maintenance of oil containment boom, the operation of response equipment and protection of the environment by limiting access to and through deployed protective boom."

That statement is the most egregious smokescreen we have encountered on this story. No one is maintaining the boom in Barataria Bay. Boom must be anchored, cleaned and replaced. This is not happening, and the Coast Guard, which reports directly to President Obama, does not want you to see this.

Why aren't boom maintenance laws enforced? Instead, reporters now become felons for showing the American public the utter mess the Coast Guard, federal officials and BP have created in our once-beautiful waterways.

Here is one boom plan that is not being implemented.

"The boom is not working ... it is a joke," says Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, at a Thursday Senate hearing. "It washes up on the shore with the oil, and then we have oil in the marsh, and we have an oily boom. So we have two problems."

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has said that the boom only works in open ocean.

Another under-reported aspect of this story is that the dispersant Corexit has done its job of hiding the catastrophe so well that booms cannot stop the oil. It slips, snakes and slides under the booms, which are inherently worthless in shallow waters, as Landrieu says.

Here is what the Ports and Waterways Safety Act directs. Is the Coast Guard ensuring the environmental protection of Barataria Bay? It is not, and Thad Allen and BP and the federal government do not want you to see the images that bring that fact home.

The Coast Guard has a statutory responsibility under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 (PWSA), Title 33 USC §1221to ensure the safety and environmental protection of U.S. ports and waterways. The PWSA authorizes the Coast Guard to "...establish, operate and maintain vessel traffic services in ports and waterways subject to congestion.

In fairness to beleaguered information officers at Unified Command, there is one woman who has been trying to be helpful on several information fronts. I sent her this question:

Have you heard about the Coast Guard regulation (new) about booms and staying 20 meters away. Does this apply to unmanned booms? There is a felony penalty. Does this mean no boat traffic in Barataria Bay? It is hard to stay that distance if you are near the boomed islands.

Her response was immediate and we cannot hold PIO officers accountable for the regulations. She did sum it up in no uncertain terms.

The safety zone applies to ALL boom. In the case of Barataria Bay, the statement made in the press release," In areas where vessels operators cannot avoid the 20-meter rule, they are required to be cautious of boom and boom operations by transiting at a safe speed and distance," would apply.

Do you want to see more photos like this oiled dolphin in Barataria Bay, taken by Jerry Moran?

Copyright Jerry Moran

Permission to enter any safety zone must be granted by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New Orleans by calling 504-846-5923. Perhaps the American public should start calling him and demand that our rights of free speech and expression be reinstated in Gulf waters.

Note: I am removing all copyrights on my work. Spread these photos far and wide.

UPDATE: This in at 10:30 AM CST July 3. Perhaps media is protesting too much? Me, I don't buy the explanation. A sop to Cerberus. This directive hardly "protects" the people of South Louisiana.

HOUMA, La. - The Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New Orleans has delegated authority to the Coast Guard Incident Commander in Houma to allow access to the safety zones placed around all Deepwater Horizon booming operations in Southeast Louisiana.

The Coast Guard Incident Commander will ensure the safety of the members and equipment of the response before access is granted.

"The safety zones are intended to safeguard critical resources that are a vital part of the largest oil spill response in our history," said Chief Petty Officer Paul Roszkowski, Assistant Public Information Officer at Incident Command Post Houma, La. "We must take the steps necessary to preserve the assets needed as we fight to save the way of life of the people of Louisiana."

The safety zone has been put in place to prevent vandalism to boom and to protect the members and equipment of the response effort by limiting access to, and through, deployed protective boom.

Media wishing to gain access to the safety zones should call the Houma Joint Information Center at 985-493-7835.

Do you really believe the Coast Guard will allow photos of this? This is BP and Coast Guard neglect, and does not reflect vandalism. Ask yourselves what motivations anyone could have to vandalize worthless boom material--material that is now doing more harm than good. It is past time for us to become critical thinkers.


Holy Fucking Shit!

Scuse the profanity but, holy fucking shit! But seriously, there's always a worst case scenario. Guess what. It gets worse than we first imagined it could. Now, I don't wanna run out onto the street as naked as I am screaming "the fucking sky is falling! the fucking sky is falling!" People would think I'm nuttier than they thought I am, and I am a nutcase: mentally healthy people don't go around spreading rumours about 9/11 being an inside job and the end of mankind is near and what nots like that. Total bullshit. Nutcase. I know a minute fraction of 1% about geophysics. It's easy. Too much gas and you fart. The earth as a planet is a living entity just like you are. Think about it. Fart first and then read this; http://www.helium.com/items/1882339-doomsday-how-bp-gulf-disaster-may-ha... So much of this is so scary, I would prefer to write it off as bullshit. I want it to be bullshit. It's not. Not all of it. Maybe the timing, 2012 and all, but not all of it. Examples:
Many geologists concur: "The consequences of a methane-driven oceanic eruption for marine and terrestrial life are likely to be catastrophic. Figuratively speaking, the erupting region "boils over," ejecting a large amount of methane and other gases (e.g., CO2, H2S) into the atmosphere, and flooding large areas of land. Whereas pure methane is lighter than air, methane loaded with water droplets is much heavier, and thus spreads over the land, mixing with air in the process (and losing water as rain). The air-methane mixture is explosive at methane concentrations between 5% and 15%; as such mixtures form in different locations near the ground and are ignited by lightning, explosions and conflagrations destroy most of the terrestrial life, and also produce great amounts of smoke and of carbon dioxide..."
Ground zero: The Gulf Coast The people and property located on the greater expanse of the Gulf Coast are sitting at Ground Zero. They will be the first exposed to poisonous, cancer causing chemical gases. They will be the ones that initially experience the full fury of a methane bubble exploding from the ruptured seabed. The media has been kept away from the emergency salvage measures being taken to forestall the biggest catastrophe in human history. The federal government has warned them away from the epicenter of operations with the threat of a $40,000 fine for each infraction and the possibility of felony arrests. Why is the press being kept away? Word is that the disaster is escalating.
It gets worse. Promised.
Cracks and bulges Methane is now streaming through the porous, rocky seabed at an accelerated rate and gushing from the borehole of the first relief well. The EPA is on record that Rig #1 is releasing methane, benzene, hydrogen sulfide and other toxic gases. Workers there now wear advanced protection including state-of-the-art, military-issued gas masks. Reports, filtering through from oceanologists and salvage workers in the region, state that the upper level strata of the ocean floor is succumbing to greater and greater pressure. That pressure is causing a huge expanse of the seabed-estimated by some as spreading over thousands of square miles surrounding the BP wellhead-to bulge. Some claim the seabed in the region has risen an astounding 30 feet. The fractured BP wellhead, site of the former Deepwater Horizon, has become the epicenter of frenetic attempts to quell the monstrous flow of methane. The subterranean methane is pressurized at 100,000 pounds psi. According to Matt Simmons, an oil industry expert, the methane pressure at the wellhead has now skyrocketed to a terrifying 40,000 pounds psi.
I really need to start writing myself instead of this copy paste bullcrap. More headaches.........
Mass death on the water If the methane bubble—a bubble that could be as big as 20 miles wide—erupts with titanic force from the seabed into the Gulf, every ship, drilling rig and structure within the region of the bubble will immediately sink. All the workers, engineers, Coast Guard personnel and marine biologists participating in the salvage operation will die instantly. Next, the ocean bottom will collapse, instantaneously displacing up to a trillion cubic feet of water or more and creating a towering supersonic tsunami annihilating everything along the coast and well inland. Like a thermonuclear blast, a high pressure atmospheric wave could precede the tidal wave flattening everything in its path before the water arrives. When the roaring tsunami does arrive it will scrub away all that is left.
This is only a select cut of the article a good friend and very pissed off combat veteran name John sent me and a number of other people he sends stuff he feels is MUST READ AND UNDERSTAND FUBAR SHIT ! get the remainder between your lobes at : http://www.helium.com/items/1882339-doomsday-how-bp-gulf-disaster-may-ha... Oh, sorry, I already mentioned that, the URL. Anyway, wasn't it a huge assed meteorite that crashed into the earth and caused the big fucking hole they call the gulf of Mexico? Or was it the biggest fart the earth ever let rip? You be the judge.

A catalyzing cataclysm

Yeah, I saw that methane bubble stuff a while back. Meanwhile, pressure is increasing on California fault lines, so a shock that big on the east coast could easily set off the big one on the west coast. Don't be too surprised if you come back to the States to find it has changed its name to the United State of America and Kansas is the only state left. ;)

a new banner de jour

always click on the banner for the story behind the distorted, fubar banner. These photos break my heart. The gulf region will never be the same. Never ever ever. So horribly sad.

I read that we had just discovered two new species in the gulf

two species that we had not been aware of and now the greed of men will be their end. I have seen and read enough in the past 4 days of searching to understand that we are not intended to recover from this tragic event. It is designed to devastate parts of US that will never recover... like a brutal rape... equal to murder... we will become survivors... well, at least some of us will. Thank you, Folkie... a heartbreaking collection of evidence that will never see a courtroom.

Called the Coast Guard and White House comment line...

Called the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center Phone: (713) 323-1670 and complained to the media office that Georgianne Nienaber and Jerry Moran had been charged with a felony. OK I got the impression that they had been charged, which apparently they haven't, but my main discussion was that as an independent photographer, a former Coast Guardsman, and someone who believes we need everybody who can do something, doing it without restrictions... we must not encumber independent media folks with felony threats and fines. I got a callback from the duty officer I spoke with. She explained that this article was published as a hypothetical situation, no one has been charged, and that the Coast Guard is bending over backward to help media get anywhere they want. She advised notifying whatever port captain has jurisdiction [I got the idea that the call serves to avoid unnecessafy potential interaction with a patrol, although she said the chance of encountering one is nearly nil]. She said that her info center can provide the local phone numbers for such a call. I don't want to be naive about arbitrary institutional authority. I thank Nienaber and Moran for their extraordinary work. We need them to fully exercise their rights to investigate, photograph and report, and keep us posted on any actual challenge of those rights. I urge everyone to stay alert and call the White House 202 456-1111 and the Joint Information Center as I did, to call for rescinding any felony and fine risk that could restrain our eyes and ears on the Gulf, especially our independent media!


I was amazed that someone sent this to me and I discovered you actually called the CG in our behalf. Pretty cool and I thank you. Georgianne Nienaber

Totally harmless and absolutely necessary

...these pictures. THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND words and music by Woody Guthrie Chorus: This land is your land, this land is my land From California, to the New York Island From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters This land was made for you and me As I was walking a ribbon of highway I saw above me an endless skyway I saw below me a golden valley This land was made for you and me Chorus I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts And all around me a voice was sounding This land was made for you and me Chorus The sun comes shining as I was strolling The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling The fog was lifting a voice come chanting This land was made for you and me Chorus As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there And that sign said - no tress passin' But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin! Now that side was made for you and me! Chorus In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple Near the relief office - I see my people And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin' If this land's still made for you and me. Chorus (2x)

A thank you

I sincerely hope there are no legal ramifications to your telling/showing the truth here. I do want to say that these pictures are appreciated and you have not gone into danger to no avail. Please give up the good work! I don't have $40,000 or really any money at all to help out. I can only express my appreciation.

We're just kidding about the money.

Rossi posted his "fundraiser" as a satire on websites that seem to be only in it for the money. For us this is a labor of love. Georgianne Nienaber removed the copyrights from her pictures so that people would post them, and was happy to learn that we'd posted them here. As for the government and BP, screw 'em, the way that they've been screwing us. Fubar and Grill is now two weeks old and we're happy to see new people joining and posting.

oil spill felon

I can't see the whole photos on my computer, they are intentionally blocked out or is it just me?

Maybe maybe maybe

karlekarbastaforsvar, I have the images stored on my imageshack account. They were set to "private". I really don't think that was the cause but maybe maybe maybe it was, so I changed the settings. I hope you can see them all now. If not, give me a shout right here or via message or even via my best mail account : sempre18 at gmail dot com. Use FUBAR in the subject line. greets, rossi

I can see them also.

What browser are you using? Sometimes they take a little while to load.

Hi karlekarbastaforsvar

Here on my machine they appear fine... others will also reply to your question I am sure... hopefully it is just a fluke. Nice to meet you here.

To think I almost joined the Coast Guard

That was 77. I was 17. The job description sounded okay but I couldn't imagine jetting around in a fucking boat all the time. But seriously, the CG had the best schooling, best returns for your time. The idea didn't make any sense at all back then so I opted out for FTA, a FUBAR associate.

I called the number given for

I called the number given for the coast guard and was told that is an emergency response number and the captain was not available. It is a holiday weekend. Too bad the oil doesn't take a vacation, or the animals dying, or the health of the residents affected. I informed her that this IS AN EMERGENCY!!! What the hell do you think this is? Animals are getting sick and dying, our environment is dying, and soon people will be dying. Does that not constitute an emergency? WE THE PEOPLE of the United States want something done about this, and restricting access to report the truth will only result in a war between us and them. This is our gulf waters, our coastline, our sea animals, our birds, our fishing industry, our economy, our people and what is supposed to be our government. I know that is now a joke no longer even remotely funny. This country was built on FREEDOM. That seems to be lost on the Ovomit administration, and enforcing crippling laws on that freedom to prevent the truth from being told, will not bode well for them. WE THE PEOPLE are much stronger, and obviously much smarter, and we will prevail. Thank you for risking your freedom to get the truth to us, and we will not let you down. We will fight right along side of you to keep our country free, healthy, and clean.

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