I spent part of Friday morning with Raleigh and Kay Lasseigne, a husband and wife in Grand Isle, Louisiana whose lives were completely upended by the BP oil disaster. Raleigh was a fisherman, shrimper, and crabber, and oysterman who sold his catch from a small building next to his home. Together with his son, also a fisherman, Raleigh’s life was the ocean and its bounty.
Now Raleigh says it’s all covered in oil. “It’s a total disaster for the oyster business,” Raleigh told me Friday. Their 200 acres of oyster beds are “full of oil,” who says the oil in shallow waters is so thick “that you could pick it up with a stick and it looked like peanut butter coming out of there,” said Raleigh. “The marshes are full of it.”
He used to have a lease on an oyster bed near where an oil rig tried to drill for oil but instead hit a “dry well.” Nonetheless, despite not hitting a situable oil reserve, the drilling released oil to such an extent that “ten years after you grab an oyster out of there, where they have the mud, you pull and oyster out of the mud and still see the oil. Ten years.”
The problem isn’t just what’s on the surface or dispersed in the water, but what silently seeps into the soil and is literally impossible to remove. That’s the death of the oyster business in Louisiana.
Watch Raleigh tell his story: