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Latest update : 2010-07-26

Will the oil slick kill Louisiana’s bayou?

The oil slick is threatening to destroy the bayou in Venice, Louisiana, along with the livelihoods of the people who live there. France 24 takes you to the bayou...before it disappears for good.

Because this oil spill is gushing from so far beneath the surface, it is not like the others, the oil hits the shores in small patches, carried by the tide and the winds. Barely visible but it's envelops all that live and make their living here.

We followed Jimmy Trabeau, a shrimper in Venice, a fishing village lost at the end of a peninsula, amongst the mangrove, the "bayou". Jimmy is 62 and has been fishing here for 42 years. Because some spots, not yet touched by oil, are still open for fishing, Jimmy goes shrimping. Most of his colleagues are now working for BP, hired for clean up operations. BP pays well: $1200 a day for a small boat, 3000 for a bigger one. A deck hand will get $300 a day. A good pay for this area. But Jimmy laughs at the disorganization of the cleaning operations and "those BP people who know nothing about this area".

Still, if BP offers him a job, Jimmy will take it. "I need the money" he says. His girlfriend Irene knows how painful that can be for him: If Jimmy can’t fish... I don’t know... He is a totally different man you know. And take this away from him I don’t know what it would be like to live with him or for him to live with himself. That’s his life. He lives for that."

Jordan works for the Sierra club, an environmentalist organization. Since the oil spill started she has been on the water, trying to spot oil, count oiled birds. She sees many boats hired by BP. All islands in the bay are protected by booms. Jordan hopes this accident will help the American people to change their mind about energy policy: « I think we have come to a point where we have a serious addiction and we need to win ourselves out of it. We need to move ourselves into a new clean energy economy. Oil is a finite resource ».

But she knows she still is in the minority, even in this community. Most people here in Venice work for the oil industry. David, the captain of her boat, interrupts: "we have no choice, we have to drill"...

The oil spill is going to change the way of life in the bayou. Not so much the oil industry in America...

By Nathan KING , Emmanuel SAINT-MARTIN

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