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June 16, 2010

Alan Chin: Creeping Doom

ABOVE THE GULF OF MEXICO: June 10, 2010 On board Coast Guard aircraft overflying the site of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. Below there is a fleet of ships trying to cap the still leaking well.
ABOVE THE GULF OF MEXICO: June 10, 2010 On board Coast Guard aircraft overflying the site of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. Below there is a fleet of ships trying to cap the still leaking well.
ABOVE THE GULF OF MEXICO: June 10, 2010 Coast Guard air crew on board aircraft overflying the site of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. Below there is a fleet of ships trying to cap the still leaking well.
ABOVE THE GULF OF MEXICO: June 10, 2010 Coast Guard air crew on board aircraft overflying the site of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. Below there is a fleet of ships trying to cap the still leaking well.
GRAND ISLE, LA: June 9, 2010 Residents await the arrival of football players from the New Orleans Saints NFL team as part of a morale-boosting effort for this community hard hit by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
GRAND ISLE, LA: June 9, 2010 Residents await the arrival of football players from the New Orleans Saints NFL team as part of a morale-boosting effort for this community hard hit by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Off COCUDRIE, LA: June 12, 2010 Anti-oil boom maintenance: The booms have to be constantly attended because of tides, weather, and saturation with oil. Initial booming was only partially successful. BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Off COCUDRIE, LA: June 12, 2010 Anti-oil boom maintenance: The booms have to be constantly attended because of tides, weather, and saturation with oil. Initial booming was only partially successful. BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
VENICE, LA: June 15, 2010 Staging area for National Guard helicopters dropping 3000-lb. sandbags to build up an artificial breakwater or berm against BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
VENICE, LA: June 15, 2010 Staging area for National Guard helicopters dropping 3000-lb. sandbags to build up an artificial breakwater or berm against BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Barrier Islands off GRAND ISLE, LA: June 11, 2010 Anti-oil booms thrown out of position. The booms have to be constantly attended because of tides, weather, and saturation with oil. Initial booming was only partially successful.
Barrier Islands off GRAND ISLE, LA: June 11, 2010 Anti-oil booms thrown out of position. The booms have to be constantly attended because of tides, weather, and saturation with oil. Initial booming was only partially successful.

After years of coming to Louisiana during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I, like many, had been overjoyed this Mardi Gras, when the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl and at long, long last, the feeling in this city was that maybe a corner had finally been turned. It was the first time since before the storm that I came to see my friends and have a good time, rather than work and photograph.

So my heart sank when BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well burned and sank, unleashing the biggest oil spill in our country’s history. I knew that, unlike natural disaster or war, the impact would not be immediately visible, even though the consequences are just as grave in the long term. I felt no rush to come. Rather, I was depressed at the thought of this region getting battered again, never mind the politics of regulatory failure and corporate greed.

Out on the water, visiting the barrier islands off of Grand Isle and Venice, thousands of birds still fly and nest. Dolphins swim and dance. The long, hot summer sun beats down, relieved only by the artificial breeze created by a motorboat’s engine. If I weren’t here because of this catastrophe, these would be pleasant days in a beautiful environment. But instead there is the inescapable sense of creeping doom.

Everybody is praying for a miracle.

–Alan Chin

PHOTOGRAPHS by: ALAN CHIN / facingchange.org

captions– Top: Barrier Islands off GRAND ISLE, LA — Pelicans are one of the vulnerable species hard hit by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Many of their nesting grounds are on the barrier islands and reefs.

Bottom: GRAND ISLE, LA — June 13, 2010. Ecumenical interfaith prayer service as part of community response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Father Michael Tran of the local Catholic Church at left.

About the Photographer

Alan Chin

Alan Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Alan Chin was born and raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Since 1996, he has worked in China, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. In the US, Alan has explored the South, following the historic trail of the civil rights movement and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, covered multiple presidential campaigns, and the Occupy Wall Street movement. He is a contributing photographer to Newsweek/Daily Beast and The New York Times, a member of Facing Change: Documenting America (FCDA), and an editor at Newsmotion.org. You can see all Alan's posts for BagNews here.

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