Disappearing Coastline vs Disappearing Victims

According to news reports for the 9th anniversary of the BP oil spill, the state has rebuilt 5.1 sq miles of coast with $500M in BP fines and has $6.8 slated for other projects.  Keep in mind that the federal courts gave BP a 50% discount on the calculated fines and gave them 15 years to pay it off with the ability to write it off at the end. BP’s stock went up after the settlement was announced.

Yet for the clean-up victims, only 20% of the 37,000 claims were paid a total of $60 million while the plaintiff lawyers made more than $700 million and the Claims Administrator made $155 million. The rest of the claims were put into the “latent injury” class. BP acknowledged about 200,000 victims were exposed to their chemicals and argued in court that latent injuries such as cancer take years to develop after exposure. Turns out they were right.  The judge stayed the cases indefinitely since 2014 as those victims and more developed cancer and other chronic illnesses, causing them to depend on social service instead of paying for themselves. A free 21-medical program was established for primary care treatment but it did not cover chemical-exposure symptoms which excluded the victims altogether.

Obama’s presidential commission reported the suspicion that long-term health effects would follow but focus on long-term research should not overshadow the need to provide immediate medical assistance to affected communities, which have suffered from limited access to healthcare services. Yet the Gulf Study and the GoMRI Research group were given billions to exclusively study long-term health effects, while our primary medical profession was left clueless on how to diagnosis and treat chemical exposure as they were stuck with the ICD-9 codes which did not list chemical exposure as a diagnosis. As each anniversary passes, the disappearing victims that rushed to protect the rest of us from the same fate are dying off.  Time is not on the side of the disappearing victims. When will justice be served?

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