Local Operators Hurt By Oil Spill

Ever since its Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, killing eleven and injuring more, the BP oil leak has been the top story around the world.

By now, you’ve surely seen the oil leaking from the live BP “gush cam,” the pictures of the oil-drenched birds and beaches, and even heard from the President Obama in his first address from the Oval Office.

“Make no mistake, we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes,” said Mr. Obama. “We will make BP pay for the damage its company has caused.”

There’s also a national movement to boycott BP, including one Facebook group with more than 600,000 members and many more.

One group of Naperville citizens especially affected by efforts like this are BP operators, who say they are not directly tied to the disaster in the Gulf but have seen the effect in their bottom lines.

Amet Patel has owned the BP station at 901 N. Washington St. for nearly two years now, and says his profits at the pump are down around 10% since the oil leak became top news.

“Before it used to be where we’d have ten, twelve cars (at our) we have 12 pumping stations here,” said Patel. “Look at this, what do we have right now? Four cars barely, and usually we have ten or eleven at all times.”

Patel says local franchise owners like him receive no funding from BP, and the decrease in outside profits hurt other aspects of his business, including paying his employees and providing expanded services inside the convenience store.

“I hope that people understand that this is independently owned and our livelihood is based on this,” said Patel.

That’s why Patel is hoping that customers focus on the friendly service he can provide, rather than the environmental stigma now attached to the BP sign out front.

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