Cleanup workers describe conditions as "beyond bad"

By David Spunt - bio | email

GRAND ISLE, LA (WAFB) - Beach cleanup workers along the Louisiana coast are blowing the whistle on what they call "beyond bad conditions."

For weeks, reporters have been trying to talk to the folks on the front lines cleaning the beaches. The majority of the time they will not comment for fear of losing their job, but on Wednesday, two workers said they are fed up.

Hundreds of cleanup workers spend hours a day on Grand Isle's famous beaches. They work in the blazing hot sun with an odor of oil so strong you can almost taste it. Two cleanup workers, who asked for their identities to remain anonymous over fears of losing their jobs, finally have had enough and decided to sound off about the conditions.

"It's just the BS that comes with the job," said the first cleanup worker.

They say they are employed by Ashland Services, a staffing company out of Harvey, Louisiana. According to BP, Ashland is the only company contracted to hire cleanup workers for Grand Isle. One woman said she has worked at Ashland for two weeks and has yet to receive a paycheck.

"They are not organized at all and I'm not going back out there," said the second cleanup worker.

She said she was told she would be paid weekly, but it is the working conditions that really bother them.

"A guy passed out on the beach, literally, with sand in his eyes, ears and nose and the people around him were laughing, even the bosses," the first cleanup worker recalled. "There was about to be a big fight."

A man who identified himself on the phone as a manager at Ashland would not comment. He only said to "leave him alone" and hung up. A man at the Ashland headquarters on the island also said he had "no comment."

"All we're doing is raking seaweed. I would like to get out there and actually help with the wildlife and the marsh and major areas of it. They have us just working on the beach. When we went to scoop up some oil yesterday, they told us, 'Don't scoop up the oil. Just rake the seaweed,'" added the second cleanup worker.

BP said it had no official comment, but would look into the issue.

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