PARKERSBURG - Three area youths received some support in the form of honked horns and thumbs up during a peaceful protest against the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at the Pike Street BP gasoline station Friday.
"I expected people to throw things at me, and I'm really surprised by the support," said Madi Harbert, organizer of the protest. "It is really awesome when they honk and wave nicely."
Harbert, 15, was joined by her friends Chris Newberry and Katkrina Yates for the event in which they held up signs that stated their opinion on the BP Oil Co., not the local or any gas station.
JOLENE CRAIG Special to the Times
Area teenagers Katkrina Yates, left, Chris Newberry and Madi Harbert, right, stand on public property near the Pike Street BP gasoline station Friday in a protest against the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Harbert, 15, organized the protest because of her outrage over what little the company, not the stations, are doing to fix the problem.
As far as authorities, including Jan Vineyard, executive director of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, know, this was the first spill protest in the area.
Harbert said she knows the BP station in south Parkersburg is not responsible for the situation in the Gulf of Mexico.
"I don't want to hurt the business; they did nothing wrong," Harbert said. "The location is symbolic."
Gary Branon, manager of the Pike Street BP, said their business has not had any problems since the explosion that caused the oil spill two months ago.
"We haven't noticed a drop in store or fuel sales at all," Branon said.
He also noted the news of the protest did not stop customers from using the location.
"Everything is working well here," Branon said.
Harbert, a Belpre resident, said she decided to hold the protest after she watched a television special about the ecological impact of the oil spill.
"I want to voice my opinion, and a protest is the best way I could think of," she said.
Newberry, also of Belpre, said he joined his friend because he, too, is angry.
"The oil spill is killing the ecosystem, and all BP basically cares about is money," he said.
"I want people to know how I feel."
The estimated amount of oil leaking has changed from 10,000 gallons a day when it began to as much as 60,000 gallons a day, which is 12 times the estimated rate a month ago, according to a team of government and independent scientists.