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Residents say oil spill effects still felt

  |   Dec. 22, 2010 at 2:13 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Some Gulf Coast residents and business still suffer economic and emotional effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, tourism and fishing advocates say.

Representatives for several organizations in Gulf Coast states say residents are experiencing extreme stress -- including physical and mental health issues -- from losing their livelihood because of the months-long spill that spewed hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the gulf before the well was sealed, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Wednesday.

"Families continue to need assistance and businesses are grappling with uncertainties about the future," said Dan Favre, a Gulf Restoration Network spokesman, said during a telephone news conference Tuesday. "After eight months, oil is still here and so are we. The BP disaster continues to have real impacts on real people."

Maryal Mewherter, spokeswoman for Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing, said indigenous people "were left with an uncertainty about being able to return to work, sell their catch or being able to eat any of the seafood from the Gulf of Mexico."

Tourism-dependent Florida has been hit as well, Keith Overton, chairman of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, told The Times-Picayune.

"We don't know how long it's going to take to restore confidence in people that the Gulf of Mexico is safe," Overton said.

The types of problems facing Gulf Coast residents aren't resonating in Washington, Farve said, explaining that Congress failed to approve legislation that would have directed spending of money from fines against BP and other parties for environmental restoration and failed to create an advisory panel that would have given Gulf Coast residents a voice in oil spill response decision-making.

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