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Oil From BP Spill Uncovered By Isaac’s Waves

By CAIN BURDEAU and JAY REEVES Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Waves from Hurricane Isaac uncovered oil previously buried along Gulf Coast beaches, exposing crude that wasn’t cleaned up after the BP spill in 2010.

Since Isaac made landfall more than a week ago, the water the storm has receded and tar balls and oil have been reported on shores in Alabama and Louisiana, where officials closed a 13-mile stretch of beach Tuesday.

BP said Wednesday some of that oil was from the spill, but said some of the crude may be from other sources, too.

“If there’s something good about this storm it made it visible where we can clean it up,” BP spokesman Ray Melick said.

BP still has hundreds of cleanup workers on the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers and leading to the nation’s largest offshore spill.

Melick said the company was working with the Coast Guard, state officials and land managers to clean up the oil on the Fourchon beach in Louisiana. He said crews would be there Thursday.

Isaac made landfall near Fourchon on Aug. 28 as a Category 1 storm, pummeling the coast with waves, wind and rain. Seven people were killed in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Ed Overton, a chemist and oil spill expert at Louisiana State University, said the exposed oil was weathered and less toxic, though it could still harm animals — such as crabs, crawfish and bait fish.

He said the storm helped speed up natural processes that break down oil and it might take several more storms to stir up the rest of the oil buried along the coast.

“We don’t like to say it, but hurricanes are Mother Nature’s way of taking a bath,” he said.

The reappearance of oil frustrated state officials.

Garret Graves, a top coastal aide to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, accused BP of not being aggressive enough with its initial cleanup.

“If they would put just a fraction of the dollars they’re putting into their PR campaign into cleanup, we’d certainly be much farther ahead than we are now,” he said.

BP has spent millions of dollars on its public relations campaign, but the company has not said exactly how much it has invested. Its cleanup and response costs over the last two years were more than $14 billion and more than 66 million man-hours have gone to protect and treat the Gulf shoreline, the company has said.

BP also gave $1 million to the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army to help victims of Isaac.

Along the oiled Fourchon beach, officials restricted fishing in waters extending one mile offshore. The state Wildlife and Fisheries Department said there was a large mat of tar on one beach and concentrations of tar balls on nearby shores.

In Alabama, officials said the tar was more of an unsightly nuisance than a health hazard, describing globs as ranging in size from a dime to a half dollar coin.

“There are areas where there are significant deposits,” said Phillip West, coastal resources manager in Orange Beach, Ala.

Samples from both states were being tested to determine whether the tar was from BP’s Macondo well.

The Alabama cities believe the tar hitting their white-sand beaches was breaking off large, submerged mats from the spill.

“I do believe we are going to be dealing with this for years,” said Grant Brown, a spokesman for the city of Gulf Shores, Ala.

The areas where workers found tar after the storm were some of the same places the heaviest oil deposits occurred during the spill.

In Mississippi, officials have so far spotted only about a couple dozen tar balls on beaches. Most have turned out to be reddish-brown bacteria, which commonly washes ashore after storms.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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Black Couple Denied Wedding At Mississippi Church

An African-American couple attending a predominantly white Baptist church in Jackson, Miss., nearly had their dream of a church wedding dashed when members of the congregation demanded that the nuptials be held elsewhere because of their race.

“The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” Charles Wilson told local news station WAFB-TV.

Wilson and his wife, commenting on how the Rev. Stan Weatherford of First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs decided to perform their wedding ceremony at a different church, said racism was to blame.

“I feel like it was blatant racial discrimination,” Wilson told the Clarion-Ledger.

“He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple,” said Te’Andrea Wilson. “I didn’t like it at all, because I wasn’t brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody.”

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson are not members of FBC of Crystal Springs, but had been regular attendees, with Mrs. Wilson having family ties to the congregation. Her father used to attend the church and she has an uncle who was a custodian there.

“Prior to this, I had been telling people how nice they were here,” Charles Wilson said. “It makes you re-evaluate things. We were doing everything right. We wanted to get married.”

The Wilsons did get married on July 21 as planned, just not in the church where they had hoped to hold the ceremony.

No black couple has ever been married at First Baptist Church of Crystal Cathedral. Pastor Weatherford has said that members would be holding meetings to see how to go forward to avoid future situations similar to the one involving the Wilsons.

According to insiders at the 150-year-old First Baptists Church of Crystal Springs, about five or six people had approached Weatherford about the planned ceremony after witnessing a rehearsal at the church two days before the Saturday wedding.

Wilson only learned after the fact that it was reportedly a handful of people who challenged having the ceremony held at the church. He insisted that Weatherford should have pushed back instead of giving in to congregants’ demands.

“If you’re for Christ, you can’t straddle the fence,” he told the Clarion-Ledger. “He knew it was wrong.”

Weatherford, calling himself a peacemaker, said he felt it necessary to comply with requests to move the wedding ceremony elsewhere.

“I was just trying to think about a win-win,” the pastor explained. “The thing is, I’m a peacemaker, and sometimes because I’m a peacemaker it gets me in trouble. The thing about it is this: I love the people of our church and that’s the bottom line.”

Weatherford insisted his primary concerns were keeping peace at the church and making sure the Wilsons could enjoy their wedding day.

“I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day,” the pastor told a local news station.

Others have suggested that Weatherford was essentially bullied into performing the wedding ceremony elsewhere and that the dissenting members do not represent the entire congregation.

“Some individuals intimidated the pastor and created a situation that had him in a bind and he was trying to do the best he could to work it out,” church attendee Bob Mack told WLBT-TV.

African-Americans in Jackson who have visited the church or have relationships with its members have defended it against claims of racism.

Church members also have apologized to the Wilsons and the local black community, denying that their church is home to a racist congregation.

Barbara Marck, a member of First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, said the church’s image has been overshadowed by a few bad apples.

“We have been portrayed as a racist church, we’re not! We welcome anybody that wants to come through those doors,” she said.

The Rev. Jim Futral, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention, said the situation at FBC of Crystal Springs was a “sad thing.”

“It’s not reflective of the spirit of the Lord and Mississippi Baptists,” he said. “It’s just a step backward. … It’s a sad thing.”

Saying much progress had been made in the denomination, Futral admitted that this step was definitely “one backward.”

The racism row comes just one month after the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant body in in the U.S., elected its first African-American president, the Rev. Frank Luter of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La.

Source: The Christian Post