Mobile’s Steel Magnolia Turns Red to Green | Casi Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper

“You go big or go home. We went big.”

Casi Callaway

“I signed up to do this work because of what I love. I love our beaches, I love Mobile Bay.”

By Ellen Simon.

Photos by ©Andy Levin, courtesy of Culture Trip.

用中文阅读 / Read in Chinese

Casi Callaway couldn’t have told you what day of the week it was — Sunday, Thursday, it didn’t really matter — but she knew what number day of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill it was.

The days were the same, pretty much from Day 8 to Day 87, when the spill stopped. She’d go to sleep at one or two in the morning, convinced she hadn’t done enough that day. She’d wake up at 4 a.m., swing her feet to the floor, and then start pounding through a welter of emails. At 7 a.m., she’d kiss her two-and-a-half-year-old son and go to the office, spinning through phone calls, meetings, messages. Back home around 6 p.m., she’d spend two hours with her son and husband, then answer emails until one or two in the morning, when she’d fall asleep with the same thought:

“I didn’t do enough.”

Eleven men were reported missing on Day One, April 20, 2010. Within days, it became clear that all 11 were dead. What wasn’t immediately obvious was that the environmental costs would be just as high, that this would be the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Casi’s first sense of that came on Day 6, with an unexpected call from Alabama’s acting environmental commissioner. He told her that the spill wasn’t much more than “a teaspoon in 18 Olympic-size swimming pools.” That just didn’t ring true to her.

She sent an email to the Waterkeeper listerv on Day 8. The first return email came from Bob Shavelson, the Cook Inletkeeper in Alaska, who had worked the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

“Everything they say, multiply it by five,” Shavelson wrote.

That day, British Petroleum, which owned Deepwater Horizon, and the Unified Command team of government and company representatives responding to the spill said it was releasing 5,000 gallons of oil a day. “I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s 25,000 gallons a day,’” Casi recalls. “Before a day had passed, they admitted it was 25,000 gallons a day.

I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s 125,000 gallons a day.’”

“I signed up to do this work because of what I love. I loved our beaches, I loved Mobile Bay,” she says. “I didn’t really know that you could lose something forever, until then. That was the first time I faced – we could really lose everything, all the way.”

“YOU TAKE CARE OF THE BAY”

Casi had a lifetime of memories floating in those waters. She’d grown up in South Alabama, spending sunburned summers as a child on the Gulf Shore’s beaches, bare feet in sugar sand, falling asleep still feeling the rocking of the waves. As a teenager, she’d explored Mobile Bay and, occasionally, the delta’s maze of flues and bayous and embayments.

Following her boyfriend’s lead at Emory University in Atlanta, she joined an environmental group. He discouraged her, saying, “You have a sorority and this is my thing. You’ll last for five minutes, then you’ll move on.” (He’s a banker now.)

During her junior year in 1989, she took on planning for the university’s Earth Day celebration. “For me, sweet home South Alabama girl, I thought, ‘I can host a party,’” she says.

“When we joined Waterkeeper Alliance, I realized I had a larger family and they gave me the tools I needed to better understand our issues and translate them for our politically conservative climate.”

Earth Day’s national campus coordinator, Owen Byrd, saw more than that in her, and encouraged her to become the event’s Southeast regional coordinator, working to ensure that every campus in a five-state area held an Earth Day event.

She dove into the work. “Got my first migraine,” she says.

“Made my first C.”

The result: 30 Earth Day events on her region’s campuses, one at every major college and university. Right then and there she knew what she wanted to be.

After graduation, she worked for six years at Clean Water Action in Washington, D.C., before moving back to the Mobile area and being hired as the first full-time director of Mobile Bay Watch, on August 1, 1998.

She knew that she faced a different kind of battle in her politically conservative, industry-minded hometown. “People down here didn’t like the word ‘environmentalist,’” she recalls, “but many of them were proud conservationists who were hunters and fishermen, with families who spent their summers on Mobile Bay. It was just a matter of showing people that we were all on the same team, whether or not they realized it at the time.”

In September 1999, Mobile Bay Watch joined Waterkeeper Alliance, and changed its name to Mobile Baykeeper.

“When we joined Waterkeeper Alliance,” says Casi, “I realized I had a larger family and they gave me the tools I needed to better understand our issues and translate them for our politically conservative climate.”

Shortly afterward, Rick Dove, then the Neuse Riverkeeper and now senior adviser at Waterkeeper Alliance, traveled down from North Carolina to conduct a site-visit.

Like her, Dove, who a few years earlier had retired as a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, was a Southern conservative, and she sought his advice regarding a conflict over a proposed local steel mill, telling him she didn’t want to be the one to kill jobs.

“I told her, ‘What you always need to do is visit the bay and ask — what do you want me to do? That’s where you get your answer,’” says Dove. “’Your job isn’t to fight for jobs. Your job is to fight for Mobile Bay. If you don’t step up and do something, then who’s going to?’”

Nearly 17 years later, Casi evokes these words as a mantra whenever she encounters opposition.

Such inspiration and encouragement helped carry Mobile Baykeeper through some significant milestones. In 1999, it filed its first lawsuit, against the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System (MAWSS), for violations of the Clean Water Act, after Baykeeper discovered that the sewer system had been spilling 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage into the bay annually.

“One of the very first things we knew we were going to have to deal with was sewage,” says Casi. “Sewage spills kept occurring because MAWSS was putting Band-Aids on the system and not making the types of upgrades that were critical to prevent more spills.”

After nearly two years of negotiations, the parties reached a settlement that markedly improved the way MAWSS would operate. Under the settlement, the agency was required to make a significant investment to upgrade infrastructure, an amount that has now reached more than $200 million.

Remarkably, what had started with a lawsuit eventually became a partnership.

Shortly after the settlement, the two organizations joined in a fight against the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), which had proposed construction of a new highway that would cross 13 streams within the Big Creek Lake Reservoir, Mobile’s primary source of drinking water.

“The whole situation was a giant mess,” says Casi. “They hadn’t even conducted an environmental-impact statement and were allowing massive amounts of red clay to be dumped in our drinking-water supply.”

The partnership finally settled with ALDOT in 2007, exacting tightened rules regarding the amount of dirt that could be uncovered while building new roads, and imposing more stringent statewide stormwater regulations.

“Collaboration has been behind every successful campaign we have won,” Casi says. “This was such a unique scenario, that, despite being in a previous lawsuit with MAWSS, we were able to work together and win a huge battle that saved the drinking-water supply for hundreds of thousands of our citizens.”

“When Casi started, it was a huge uphill battle,” says Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “Today, because of her hard work and dedication, all the stakeholders work together well on clean-water issues.”

Rick Dove has visited Casi often since their first meeting. A skilled photographer, he even shot her wedding photos. “She just does not quit,” he says, “That’s not blood running through her veins, it’s water, Mobile Bay water.”

“THEY STILL DON’T KNOW”

On Day 12 of the Deepwater Horizon spill, Casi left home at dawn to be interviewed on the beach by CNN. She was still going at midnight, stumbling bleary-eyed through a grocery store as she talked on the phone with Marc Yaggi, Waterkeeper Alliance’s deputy director at the time and now executive director, strategizing about how they could get her in the room where the decisions about the clean up were being made.

Yaggi flew to New Orleans on Day 13 on three hours’ sleep, and then drove across Mississippi to Mobile with Justin Bloom, an environmental lawyer who’s now the Suncoast Waterkeeper in southwest Florida.

Casi Callaway on Mobile Bay

Casi Callaway on Mobile Bay.

Their goal was to get Casi into “Incident Command,” where officials from federal and state agencies, such as the Coast Guard, NOAA, EPA and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and the representative from the responsible party (in this case, BP) worked to plan, implement and fund a response.

As is usually the case — chillingly — the responsible party had taken the lead. The last person they wanted in the room was a local environmental leader. For a few days, Casi was refused entry by security guards hired by BP but, with Yaggi’s help, she was in Incident Command by Day 17.

Looking around, Casi sussed out what she was up against. “Not a one of them was from here,” she says. “Didn’t know what to do with us. Didn’t know what needed to be protected. Didn’t know what was an important species.” The representative from the state’s environmental agency was seated, symbolically, in the farthest back corner.

“Everything felt guided by BP or the feds,” she says. “They hadn’t checked to see if the oil dispersant was toxic. What did it do to subsurface species? What would it do when mixed with oil? What would it do to the air? There were so many incredible people working for EPA, but they didn’t know. They still don’t know.”

She was kicked out of Incident Command three times: twice early on and, a final time, about two weeks later. She was asking too many questions and sharing too much information with the public. The last time, the colonel told her, “You need to decide if you want to be in here or not. I think you need to be out there where you can speak freely.” She didn’t come back.

REARRANGE, RECREATE, REBUILD

Everything around Casi was reshaped. She returned to a hyperactive office where the four full-timer staffers were working twice as hard and the two part-timers were working full-time. She worked 80-hour weeks. Her husband picked up everything else, running their home, becoming their son’s primary caregiver.

Even a toddler could sense that things were off-kilter. Her son had spent weekends at the beach since birth. She hadn’t discussed the oil spill with him; how would she even begin? But he knew she wasn’t around and that something bad had happened to their cherished waters.

“He looked at me one day,” Casi recalls, “and said, ‘The beach is over, Mommy?’”

During those months, Mobile Baykeeper’s tireless response and restoration plan drew national attention, as well as financial support that allowed it to double its budget and staff. It recruited hundreds of volunteers, armed them with GPS units and phone-sized video cameras, and trained them to patrol one-mile grids of the bay in kayaks to painstakingly document the effects of the spill. It still runs annual beach checks and trains volunteers to alert Baykeeper and the National Response Center Hotline with concerns.

Today, Mobile Baykeeper is more than double the size it was on Day One of the spill, with 10 full-time staff, seven part-timers and a budget of almost $1 million.

For Casi, the big lesson of the Deepwater Horizon disaster was, “You rearrange, you recreate, you rebuild. You go big or go home. We went big.”

More than eight years after the spill, Baykeeper is still very much engaged in restoration efforts throughout coastal Alabama.

“We have a lot of money coming to the Gulf Coast that needs to be spent wisely on projects that restore and enhance what was lost,” says Casi. “We’re working hard to make sure that the majority of funds go toward projects that will make us resilient enough to withstand the next disaster, manmade or natural. I see it as my job to remind people that it happened, that it’s not over, that we have more work to do.”

Ellen Simon is the Advocacy Writer at Waterkeeper Alliance.

 

阿拉巴马州的之星 | Casi Callaway, Mobile 护湾者

作者:Ellen Simon

翻译者:Katherine Olson

照片: ©Andy Levin, courtesy of Culture Trip.

“要么别去,要么大干一场。我们大干了一场。”

“我报名做这些工作是因为我所热爱的事情。我爱我们的海滩。我爱Mobile海湾。”

Casi Callaway说不出来今天具体是星期几 – 星期天,星期四,其实无所谓 – 但是,她总知道今天是Deepwater Horizon石油泄漏事件的第几天。

差不多从第8天到第7天(也是石油泄漏停止的那天),每一天都是一样的。她凌晨一两点才睡,总觉得自己那天做的不够。她凌晨四点睡醒,直接开始回复大量的邮件。上午七点,她亲两岁半的儿子,然后去上班。一天的电话,会议,邮件之后,她晚上六点到家,跟自己的儿子和老公玩两个小时,然后直到凌晨一两点回复持续不断的邮件。睡觉的时候,还是那个想法:

我没做够。

2010年4月20日是第一天,就在那天有是一个男人失踪。在几天之内,情况很清楚:他们死了。当时还不完全清楚的是,环境将付出同样严重的代价,而且这将是美国历史中最恶劣的石油泄漏。

第六天,Casi第一次意识到实事。阿拉巴马州的代理环境专员突然打电话过来,告诉他“泄漏的量等于是18个奥运游泳池里的一勺液体”。在她的脑海中,这个说法有些不对劲。

第八天,她向护水者邮件名单发了邮件。第一封回信由阿拉斯加州Cook护海峡者Bob Shavelson发送。1989年,他的工作包括Exxon Valdez石油泄漏的相关任务。

Shavelson写到,“把他们对你说的所有数字乘以五。”

当天,Deepwater Horizon的所有者英国石油以及负责石油泄漏反应工作的政府、公司代表团队说了每天石油排放量为5000加仑。Casi回想,“我对自己说,‘我的天,每日排放25万加仑。不到一天之后,他们承认,实际上每天的排放量为2.5万加仑。

我对自己说,‘我的天,每天12.5万加仑!‘“

她说,“我报名做这些工作是因为我所热爱的事情。我爱我们的海滩。我爱Mobile海湾。那个时候,我才知道你有可能永远失去一个东西。石油泄漏发生的时候,我第一次面临这种可能 – 我们真的可以失去一切,彻底失去一切。”

 “你照顾好海湾”

Casi对这些水域有一生的美好回忆。她在阿拉巴马州南部长大的,小的时候皮肤被太阳晒红,在海湾的海滩上到处玩耍,落着脚踩沙子,晚上睡觉的时候还能感觉得到自己的身体被海浪冲来冲去。十几岁的时候,她到处探索Mobile海湾,有时候还钻入河口中像迷宫一样的湿地。

在亚特兰大市Emory大学时,她跟着自己的男朋友加入了一个环保社团。他不支持,说,“你有你的那个女生联谊会,环保社团是我自己的事。我估计你坚持不到五分钟就会走。”(他现在在银行工作。)

1989年她上大三,承担了Emory大学地球日聚会的规划责任。她说,“我这么一个甜蜜的阿拉巴马女孩对自己想,‘我能主持聚会!‘”。

地球日的国家校园协调员Owen Byrd看出来了Casi的潜能远不仅如此,鼓励她成为活动的东南地区协调员。作为协调员,Casi努力确保南部地区的五个州的每所大学都举办了地球日活动。”

她直接踏入了工作。她说,“我第一次得了偏头疼。”

“第一次上课得到了一个C。”

结果:她所在地区的各个校园举办了30次地球日活动,每所较大的学院与大学都举办了一个。就在那刻,她知道自己将来要成为什么。

毕业后,她在华盛顿特区清洁水行动工作了六年然后搬回了Mobile地区,在1998年8月1日成为了Mobile海湾守望者的第一位全职主任。

她知道她在自己的以政治保守、工业发展为主的家乡面临着一种独特的挑战。她回想起来,“这里,人们不喜欢‘环保主义者’这个词。不过同时,很多人都是捕猎者和渔民,自己的家庭都在Mobile海滩上度假。只不过是要帮助大家看出来,实际上我们都是为了同一件事情奋斗的,哪怕在那时候他们有没有意识到。”

1999年9月份,Mobile海湾书王者加入了护水者联盟,将自己的名称改成Mobile护湾者

“加入护水者联盟之后,我意识到自己拥有更大的家庭。他们给了我更好的了解问题、以合适的方式把问题说给我们这边的保守派政府所需要的工具。”

不久之后,曾任Neuse护河者Rick Dove(现在是护水者联盟高级顾问)从北卡过来进行现场考察。

像Casi一样,几年前退休美国海军的Dove先生也属于美国南部的保守派。Casi咨询他当地的提议中炼钢厂冲突的事,诉苦自己不希望做一个灭掉工作机会的角色。

Dove先生说,“我对她说,‘你需要做的是,到海边问问海湾,你想我做什么?在那里,你就会得到答案。你的责任不是为了工作机会而奋斗。你的责任就是要为Mobile海湾奋斗。如果你不站起来的话,那谁来行动?’”

近17年之后,一旦遇到反抗,Casi对自己说当初Dove先生对她说的话,现在已经是自己的口头禅。

这样的启发和鼓励带着Mobile护湾者达到一些巨大的里程碑。1999年发起了第一次诉讼,对象为Mobile地区水与下水道系统(MAWSS)。护湾者发现了MAWSS的下水道系统每年往海湾里泄漏250万加仑未经过处理的污水,是违反清洁水法案的行为。

Casi说,“污水是我们知道要处理的前几个问题之一。污水泄漏反复发生,MAWSS总是对管道系统做一些很随意的修改,并没有做预防泄漏所需要的永久性装修。”

在近两年的谈判之后,双方达成了法律协议,明显改善了MAWSS的经营模式。按照新协议,MAWSS必须做一大笔设施装修投资,金额现在已超过两亿美元。

更了不起的是,刚开始的原告和被告的关系慢慢发展成了合作伙伴关系。

达成法律协议不久之后,两个组织合为一体,一起反抗阿拉巴马交通部(ALDOT)修建新的高速公路的计划。如果做成了的话,这条公路将穿过Mobile地区的主要饮水源Big Creek Lake水库的13条小溪。

Casi说,“整个情况超级乱。他们在根本没有进行环境影响评价的条件下允许大量的红黏土倾倒入我们的饮水源。”

2007年,两个合作伙伴与ALDOT达到了协议,即制定更严格的法规来控制在建设新马路时能挖掘并暴露多少土壤,还使全州的暴雨水法规变得更加严格。”

Casi说,“在我们的每一次获胜的背后都有着合作伙伴的身影。这真的是非常独特的情况:尽管我们曾经对MAWSS起诉过,但是我们还是在这个案子上成为了合作伙伴,在一个巨大的战争中获胜、拯救数十万个市民的饮水源。”

Mobile市长Sandy Stimpson说,“当Casi刚当上这个角色的时候,她的工作是非常困难的。现在,由于她勤奋的态度和决心,所有利益相关者在清洁水相关问题都有良好的合作关系。”

自从第一次见面之后,Rick Dove有多次拜访Casi。他非常擅长摄影,还做过Casi的婚纱照摄影师。他说,“她不肯放弃。她血管流淌的不是血,流的就是水,是Mobile海湾的水。”

“他们还不知道”

在Deepwater Horizon石油泄漏事件发生的第12天,Casi在凌晨的时候离开家,准备在沙滩上被CNN采访。晚上十二点,她还没放下手上的工作,眼睛几乎睁不开还在超市里购物,同时跟护水者联盟当时的副主任(现在任执行主任)Marc Yaggi通电话。两个人在电话里里谈论战略,怎么样才能给Casi机会进入做清理石油的相关决策的会议室。

第13天,Yaggi先生只睡了三个小时就起来,飞到了New Orleans市。落地后他跟现任弗罗里达西南部Suncoast护水者的环境律师Justin Bloom一起从密西西比州自驾至Mobile市。

Casi Callaway在Mobile海湾

他们的目标就是要让Casi入“事故决策队”,这个队伍由一群来自海岸卫队,NOAA,EPA及阿拉巴马环境管理局等联邦、州机构的官僚以及出事故的单位(在这个情况下,是BP石油公司)组成,首要用途为一起合作来规划、执行应急反应工作以及为其提供资金。

令人觉得恐怖的是,和很多案例一样,造成事故的单位来带领解决方案队伍。而他们最不希望环保领袖进屋干涉。刚开始几天,BP雇佣的保安不让Casi进门,不过在Yaggi先生的帮助下,第17天的时候她终于加入了事故决策队。

Casi瞄了一下周围的人,估计了一下自己面临着什么。她说,“他们几个人中,没有任何一个是当地的。他们不知道怎么处理我们。不知道有哪些自然资源需要保护。不知道哪些物种是最重要的。”州环境机构的代表坐在远远的角落里。

她说,“感觉一切由BP或者联邦政府指导。他们根本没调研过石油分散剂是否有毒有害。它是否对靠近水表面的海洋物种有伤害?它跟石油发生混合之后会不会有什么不良反应?空气呢?EPA有很多很优秀的人员,但是他们不知道答案。他们到现在也不知道。”

事故决策队把她给踢了三遍:两次是在刚开始的时候,最后一次是两个星期之后。她问太多问题,把太多信息分享给公众。最后一次,上校对她说,“你要决定你是否想参与。我觉得你最好还是走吧,这样就能享受言论自由。”她没有再回来。

重新整理、创造、建立

Casi的整个生活被重新塑造。她回到了积极的办公室生活,四个全职人员在做双倍的工作,两个兼职人员做的跟全职似的。她每周工作80小时。管理家庭,看孩子等各种各样的工作之外的事情都由她先生来做。

连两岁半的儿子都意识到了有些不对劲。她儿子从出生就在海滩度过周末。Casi没有跟自己的儿子提起过石油泄漏的事情,这个怎么开口呢?但是他知道,他母亲不在身边,两个人所爱的海湾出大事了。

Casi回想起来,“有一天,他看了我,说,‘海滩完了,妈妈?’”

在那几个月中,Mobile护湾者的不知疲倦的应急反应与生态恢复规划吸引了全国的注意,还吸引了大量的经济支持,足够以将预算与员工数量增加一倍。Mobile护湾者招了数百个志愿者,给了他们GPS装备以及大小如手机的视频摄像机,培训了他们如何在亿平方英里的方块内桦皮艇、详细记录石油泄漏的影响。到现在,护湾者依然进行年度沙滩监督、培训志愿者们如何将引起担忧的事项报道给护湾者与国家应急反应中心热线。

今天的Mobile护湾者的大小是石油泄漏的第一天的时候的两倍以上。现在有十名全职人员,七名简直人员以及近一百万美元的预算。

对Casi来说,Deepwater Horizon灾难是她吸取的最大的教训是,“你重新整理、创造、建立。要么别去,要么大干一场。我们大干了一场。”

从石油泄漏发生以来八年多,护湾者仍然积极参与整个阿拉巴马州沿海地区的各种生态修复工作。

Casi说,“墨西哥湾沿海岸一直在得到大量的资金,都要明智地用来修复并改善我们所失去的环境资资源。我们一直在努力保证,大多数资金调给那些能够提高当地的回弹性、有助于我们熬过下一个人造或自然灾难的项目。我觉得我的一个重要任务是要提醒大家石油泄漏发生了,不过并没有结束,我们还有很多工作要做。”


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