The correlation between the death of a loved one and a family member lobbying for change is probably obvious to all. My husband, Frank Stuart, died 2 years ago yesterday due to his cleanup efforts on the BP Oil Spill. That was 8 years after the spill occurred, almost to the day. I have gotten a 2 year education on the ways that many other people suffered for those efforts. I also noticed that nothing has changed in regards to protecting our citizens lives in the face of future oil spill disasters. This is exactly what us loved ones try to change after we lose our VIP to a tragedy.
Seems like everyone has moved on and has paid little attention to the sacrifice that screams for change. After 911, airport security drastically changed the way we travel, and the victims of 911 are still recognized for running towards danger. After the COVID-19 virus hit, governor Bel Edwards issued a proclamation to allow physicians to cross state borders to help out with the enormous effort of patient health care, started scrambling for PPE (safety gear) to protect the citizens in the front lines of health care and food industry, and lots of media attention has given those people the praise they so rightly deserve.
BP estimated in their court case that over 200,000 people were exposed to their chemicals and that it takes years after exposure for cancer to develop. Besides cancer there are many other neurological, respiratory, and epidermal illnesses that plague the victims. Primary care physicians see these people with symptoms that are common place to other illnesses and consequently misdiagnose them, sending them on a medical mystery adventure of unnecessary testing and treatment. Victims end up getting shoulder shrugs when the illness never goes away and just morphs into new symptoms.
Primary care physicians only study toxic chemicals for 7 hours over their entire 4 years in medical school. Occupational & Environmental Medical Physicians OEMP study 90,000 toxic substances in the workplace and are the experts at mitigating the effects of chemical exposure. A proclamation should have been made to allow teams of OEMPs to cross state lines immediately to advise citizens of their health risks before they jumped into the Gulf to save the estuaries. They also could have managed the length of exposure and consulted with the primary care profession. Basically they could have saved lives and the quality of life, just like we are scrambling to do now with COVID-19. I firmly believe my husband would be alive today had we had that level of concern and action addressing workers’ safety and health back then.
But this plan has to be devised and put into place BEFORE the next spill happens. Therefore, a Senate Resolution to convene a board of OEMPs to devise the plan and have the board called upon immediately to implement when the next oil spill occurs must be passed. Us loved ones are not trying to get sympathy or fame and glory trying to keep the spot light on this issue. In exchange for the recognition of our VIPs sacrifice, we would just like to see that the sacrifice was meaningful if it can save future lives.