Training Day: Fishermen attend class to qualify for oil cleanup

By Lee Peck - bio | email

CAMERON, LA (KPLC) - As BP tries to get a handle on the underwater oil leak, work continues above the surface to clean up the massive mess that has shut down the fishing industry along the Gulf coast.

"The only thing we can do now is shrimp the bay and butterlfy. And the shrimping has just went down to hardly nothing. I mean there's a lot of people who go out there. One guy said he pushed for 4 hours and caught 8 shrimp. I mean that's a lot of fuel for 8 shrimp," said Maxie Jean Miller.

Miller is just one of many commercial shrimpers in coastal Cameron now turning to BP for work. Some 75 people filed into the Cameron Parish School Board Office to get the opportunity to work for BP. But before they can qualify to start helping with the clean up effort they must get the proper training. - Everything from being able to identify the types of oil to properly putting on a safety jump suit to minimize exposure while collecting and delivering boom and skimmers.

Instructors also told them of the dangers they may encounter on the job, but say that they will never be sent into a contamination zone that is not safe for them to work. Instructors also addressed health concerns and explained that air monitoring will be done before and during the time they are working on site. The class also focused on the heat and how to stay hydrated.

As of now most of the oil cleanup has been to our east. Fortunately none of the oil has made it this far west, but these fishermen say should it come our way they are ready to work and who better to clean it up than the people of Cameron.

"A lot of people don't want to leave Cameron. That's what we would like to do is stay here and work the days or the nights so we can make the money," said Miller.

A back up plan to a way of life that hangs in the balance as more oil continues to flow freely into Gulf waters.

"We are going to be in trouble if it gets here like it is. It's just going to put the whole town out of business. Because that's basically what we do here - we oyster and shrimp and there is not much else we can do," said Miller

But Miller like the others will be ready to answer the call for help should they be needed by BP.

The safety course also addressed the issue of animal rescue should they encounter any oil covered wildlife on the job.

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