Media Access to Oil-Impacted Areas Disputed

June 2, 2010

Reporters and photographers from several news media organizations say BP and Coast Guard officials have prevented them from getting full access to the Gulf sites where wildlife and ecosystem damage is the worst.

In one incident, a CBS news crew filmed Coast Guard officials in a boat waving the news crew away from an oil-fouled coastal area, saying "It's BP's rules, nor ours."

A Coast Guard spokesman later posted a note on the joint USCG-BP "Unified Command" website saying news media were only prohibited when there were safety issues or they were in the way of operations.

The Coast Guard had earlier warned media helicopters not to fly too low near bird nesting areas, where they risked scaring or killing birds.

Reports of problems continued after the Coast Guard clarification.