Citizens take oil spill protection into their own hands

Here and Now

This story was originally reported by PRI’s “Here and Now.” For more, listen to the audio above.

James Hinton, a volunteer fire chief in Magnolia Springs, Alabama, may have a plan to save Weeks Bay in the Gulf Coast. Hinton is leading an effort to stretch barges across the mouth of Weeks Bay to help keep the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster from getting in.

Magnolia Springs has reason to worry. In nearby Mobile Bay, waves busted through the booms set up to keep the oil out. Hinton and others believe the barges could help stop the waves, and a boom set up behind the barges could stop the oil completely.

The major problem with Hinton’s plan may not be the oil, but the bureaucracy. The unified command in charge of the cleanup hasn’t approved the barge plan, and Hinton believes he may be risking jail time if he follows through on it.

“We’re not going to wait,” Hinton told PRI’s “Here and Now.” “I don’t want to defy anybody or anything or anything else, but if it comes down to it, we’ll shut it down ourselves. We’ll ask for forgiveness later.”

Hinton believes that everyone should be interested in keeping Weeks Bay pristine. “A lot of the fish and the shrimp that people enjoy for table fair, this is where they grow up,” he told “Here and Now.” He also added that bald eagles, endangered ospreys and pitcher plants call Weeks Bay home.

The project also requires about $150,000 to keep it up for 3 weeks, a price tag that is stretching local resources thin. Still, Hinton is confident that his plan will succeed. “We’re going to keep it going anyway we can,” he told “Here and Now.” “We’re determined people. We didn’t get to this point without being determined.”

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