They’ve Struck Oil, But They’re Not Rich
Phan Plork and his wife Tal are Cambodian refugees who had found a home and a good living shrimping off of the Louisiana coast. Their lives have changed radically since the BP oil rig exploded and polluted the water for hundreds of miles, shutting down commercial fishing and, instead, putting Phan’s boat and crew to work soaking up floating crude oil with fabric booms. BP pays a take-it-or-leave-it $1,500 a day for his services, half what he made before.
This Los Angeles Times video profiles the Plorks as they try to make the best of a disastrous situation, giving the viewer a personal look at the effect the spill has had on the fishing community. Tal prays for her husband’s safety while Phan and his crew, wearing protective suits and gloves, are seen hauling thick ropes of oil-soaked material from the water – a far cry from pre-spill days when they handled wiggling shrimp rather than toxic substances. It is obvious that, with no experience, the shrimpers are ineffective in gathering much oil.
Plork reminisces about his childhood days in Cambodia starving under the Pol Pot regime and how much better his life has been in the U.S. until now. But this is dangerous work for a shrimp boat that is likely to founder in the open ocean should a storm come up. “Looks like this is what we’re gonna be doin’ for a living from now on,” he tells his fellow fisherman.
CHANNEL: Los Angeles Times
Video by Sachi Cunningham