According to the news report BP Oil Spill: Criminal Negligence, Dr Michael Robichaux opened a clinic out of his home 2 years after the spill to treat over 100 cleanup workers and the shared symptoms he observed shocked him. “Patient from all over LA, MS, AL, Fl all had identical problems, very bizarre problems, things that I have never seen before.” These problems include anything from memory loss to respiratory disorders.
Here is a list of health symptoms associated with BP crude and dispersants
- Difficulty breathing
- Asthma attacks
- Chemical pneumonia
- Damage to liver, lungs, kidneys
- Damage to respiratory system
- Neurological/nervous system damage
- Blood disorders
- Blood cancer
Now it’s possible that the severity of these conditions may have been reduced with proper protective gear during the cleanup but according to Jorey Danos, a former employee who worked on a skimmer boat for 3 months after the spill, it was never provided. “They said the use of respirators was uncalled for because of bad media attention, and I would be relieved of my duties cause it wasn’t toxic, they said it was as safe as dishwasher liquid.”
According to court documents: Case 2:10-md-02179-CJB-SS DOCUMENT 6273-10 Filed: April 18, 2012 Page 14 of 15, Table 3: Chronic Specified Physical Conditions, the conditions covered by the first settlement are easily treatable and cost effective such as a runny nose and facial pressure and vastly different than those observed by Dr. Robichaux. He said, “They came up with a list of illnesses that were at very best chicken shit (for lack of a better expression).”
Why did the community rush to work on the oil spill?
Wilma Subra, an award winning toxicologist, has tested the blood tissue of countless cleanup workers was stunned by what she saw as well. She said, “This was 2010 and this was absolutely unacceptable for workers to be exposed and made ill in 2010 in the workplace environment.” She said what especially bad about the timing of the British Petroleum oil spill was, “In the spring of 2010 the ecosystem was starting to heal itself from Katrina and the fisherman were thinking this was going to be their good spring catch and they were going to be able to make money because they had lost money all those other years. And that’s when the BP disaster occurred and just wiped out all the fishing grounds. Immediately the agencies banned any harvesting in the fishing grounds and so as a result of that, a lot of the fishermen thought they knew the estuaries best and they volunteered to be cleanup workers for BP and BP contractors, and as a result of being cleanup workers they were severely exposed to the crude and to the dispersants. There were skin rashes, there were headaches, there were nausea, there were memory loss, and those people are still very very ill 4 years later.”
Corexit WAS the major dispersant BP used to spray the oil. why is it so toxic to humans and wildlife?
“In the aquatic tissue it was polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons like benzopyrene which are long lasting in the environment. They don’t degrade quickly. And that was one of the major things in the aquatic tissue: the shrimp, the oysters, the crabs, and the fin fish. Then in the community, the cleanup workers and those living along the coastal areas, I did blood samples for voltaire organic compounds benzene and toluene and I found elevated levels in the blood of those chemicals. The people were actually still being exposed because it was still washing on shore. And then the other portion is, as that slick lay in the gulf, even with the use of the corexit as a dispersant, there was still a very large slick that lasted well into August of 2010, but every time the wind would get really strong or the tide would have a lot of waves, it would change it into an aerosol sort of like a spray, like hairspray, and it would wash on shore and come on shore in the air and it came in shore over 100 miles and it made people very, very ill just from breathing it.”
Why was corexit approved by the EPA and why did BP consider using it?
“BP had 2 goals when the disaster occured, 1 to stop the flow from the well, and we know that didn’t work, it took them a very very long time. And 2 to stop the crude from making it to the shores in Louisiana and impacting the coastal marsh. And it took 9 days before it made it to the coastal marsh and it has been washing on shore ever since. So that’s why they wanted to use the dispersant. In the command center were all the federal agencies and BP. We would hear that BP would threaten them that if they made a decision counter to what BP wanted then BP said to the agencies “you are going to be liable for any damage caused by your decision”. Then as the situation occurred, the administrator of the EPA Lisa Jackson issued a directive to BP to come up with less toxic dispersants, and so when that report came out on a weekend, most of the information on it was redacted, blacked out so you couldn’t read it. But the issue was that 1 yes there were less toxic dispersants but 2 BP insisted they were not available in sufficient quantity to be able to continue to address the spill.”
How many people are sick and dying from the spill?
“My estimate along the coastal areas is hundreds of thousands of people are ill as a result of their exposure. If you take the health symptoms and you look at the health symptoms in the settlement, they don’t match. So as a result of this, the people who are being made very ill by being exposed are not part of the settlement. The other piece to this is BP was allowed to put together a large package to provide health care in LA, MS, and AL. Primary healthcare. Now, LA and MS are at the bottom of the list of health care, primary health care, and we don’t doubt that. But BP was allowed to put money into primary health care and the criteria excluded the health symptoms that were the result of the exposure to crude.
“Most of the data that BP generated or that BP contractors or university people that were under contract with BP, most of that data (air monitoring samples) is not available. So we can’t look at it and see, we have seen a little bit of the data and they are trying to argue the toxicity is way below health standards. But when you look at the samples that non-BP associated researchers did, it is demonstrating that it is in the toxicity range.”
How did BP get approved to drill again and why isn’t there more local resistance?
“You have to understand this is Louisiana and oil and gas are king and so the industry usually gets to do whatever they ask for. All of these families that have been impacted are made up of fishing communities and oil field workers. A lot of the fishing community did not want to speak out because their cousin or their brother work for the oil and gas industry and they were afraid they would lose their jobs as well. So it is a really complex situation because every family has people that work in both occupations. So you don’t want to cause anything that another member in your family will result in losing their job.”
“The media needs to tell the story and the media just got fatigued about hearing what was going on very very quickly. And they think it’s all gone, its fine. It’s not all gone and it’s not fine.”