What's the disconnect between victims feeling overlooked and a government surprised to hear there are still victims?

President Obama created a National Commission to extensively investigate the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill disaster to make recommendations. It resulted in a 379 page recommendation report on January 2011.

On page 212

Referencing the Mabus Report, also a presidential commission, which addresses the chronic Gulf marine and coastal issues, “Finally, no authority will succeed without the confidence and support of the citizens of the region. Leaders of restoration efforts emphasize the importance of gaining the support of those most directly affected by restoration projects. Local citizen support is important for several reasons: it can reduce delay of projects due to litigation or other opposition; it contributes to political support for overall goals and funding, in the short and long term; and it contributes to overall trust in government, which results in support for local projects. Any structure should therefore include a citizens’ advisory council to provide formal advice and a direct line to citizens’ concerns.

This resulted in the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, to restore the long-term health of the valuable natural ecosystem and economy of the Gulf Coast region. It consists of governors, the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, the Army, Commerce, Homeland Security, and the Interior, and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. No citizens’ advisory council to provide formal advice and a direct line to citizens’ concerns was ever formed.


On page 268

Federal responders improved their relationship with state and local officials as the response progressed—but had better coordination and communication existed sooner, that relationship could have been more productive in the early days of the spill response. Moreover, increased citizen involvement before a spill occurs could create better mechanisms to utilize local citizens in response efforts, provide an additional layer of review to prevent industry and government complacency, and increase public trust in response operations.

On page 194

“The long-term health impacts of oil spills remain largely uncertain”. “Because no biological specimens were taken at the outset of the response, the study of future health effects will be constrained by a lack of baseline data. No biological samples were taken from cleanup workers before or immediately after their exposure to oil. More generally, given the unreliability of surveillance in the days and weeks after the spill, the quality of any baseline data for studies on long-term health effects was compromised.” “However, the focus on long-term research cannot overshadow the need to provide immediate medical assistance to affected communities, which have suffered from limited access to healthcare services.”

Yet millions, if not billions, was funded to establish the Gulf Study and the GoMRI research which both exclusively focus on long-term health effects, ignoring the need for immediate medical assistance, and did not bother to establish a direct pipeline to the citizens.

The Gulf Study

The GuLF STUDY was launched to monitor the health of a control group of participants who worked on the spill. The findings from the study may influence long-term public health responses in Gulf communities or responses to other oil spills in the future.

  • One factor they are relying on is the analysis of death certificates to determine suicides and deaths related to the exposure. The accuracy of the death certificates causes Disappearing Victims concern because it states that only 40% of the cause of death are accurate.
  • There are so many cascading affects due to chemical exposure, which illness was chosen that killed the victim?
  • We were also concerned with the method of interviewing clean-up workers which is through telephone survey and medical visits. Many victims reported to us their distrust of the GuLF Study because they believed that BP was behind it. One victim reported she would not let them in because she figured they would say mold or some other thing in the household caused the multiple myeloma that her husband got years after he rescued workers from the Gulf immediately after the spill. Wouldn't it be better to gain the public's trust in a more effective manner?

Albeit a Community Advisory Group was formed, it was merely to provide advice on recruitment, study implementation, retention, and outreach efforts. No citizens’ advisory council to provide formal advice and a direct line to citizens’ concerns was ever formed.

 

Our Mission

As predicted by the Presidential Commission, we, the citizens of our region, ARE NOT confident in the authorities vested with the responsibilities to monitor and report on our health, restore the Gulf Coast Region in a balanced manner, and serve justice because we have been overlooked. We assert our rights as citizens to organize and monitor the performances these groups and insist they hear the voice of the population most effected by an oil spill so that we can strive to survive now, and prevent the unnecessary suffering in the future through effective processes.

    1. Establish a medical board to issue a medical protocol advisory, a chemical illness public brochure, and a guidance system to help people manage their health care with their attending physicians.
      • Millions-to-billions have been funded to establish 2 medical research efforts to exclusively study long-term health effects despite the 2010 presidential commission recommendation that research cannot over shadow the need for immediate care.
      • Senate resolution 16 dictated that BP should establish medical monitoring and screening and should produce a medical protocol advisory, yet the medical profession remains uninformed.
      • Millions were dedicated by BP for medical screening and monitoring but only provided primary care services to victims diagnosed within the first 2 years of the spill but even excluded chemical illnesses.
    2. Launch a judicial investigation into the delay of justice - Cases have been indefinitely stayed for victims with latent injuries. BP has set aside compensation for these cases yet, thanks to our federal government, plaintiffs that got ill after April 2014 are still waiting for their cases to be heard as they become disabled, unable to support their families, have to depend on social services or family, and die. What the government waiting on?
    3. Establish Disappearing Victims as the Citizens Advisory Council - As per the 2010 presidential commission recommendation, establish the Citizens Advisory Council to be paid for by the Restore the Gulf Council, the Gulf Study, and the GoMRI groups to provide formal advice and be a direct pipeline to citizens concerns. These groups should be influenced by the people with the most to lose in an oil spill and follow a protocol per the presidential commission to effectively manage the next oil spill in the interest of public health.