05/26/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Tara Monks // Tara Monks
Venice, LA – Louisiana fisherman who have been exposed to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, including those who have been hired by BP to help in the cleanup, have reported suffering from debilitating headaches, burning eyes and nausea, as reported by FOX News. Some industry and public officials are citing the chemical dispersant Corexit that is being used by BP as the cause of the symptoms.
BP is enlisting the use of planes to drop the dispersants into the Gulf, who have so far sprayed over 800,000 gallons of the chemicals into the water.
Riki Ott, a marine toxicologist and activist who worked on the cleanup for the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, stated the symptoms that the cleanup workers are reporting are “the exact symptoms that you could expect from overexposure to crude oil and to the chemicals that are being used out on the cleanup.”
Ott reportedly has spoken to several Gulf fishermen suffering from ailments ranging from sore throats and burning eyes to skin rashes and dizziness. She further explains that the combination of oil and dispersant elevate the health threats for those exposed.
The Vessels of Opportunity program that BP has started in order to give those affected by the spill work, is facing criticism for its lack in safety training. BP is accused of sending cleanup crews into the disaster area with minimal safety equipment and little training.
A fisherman who spoke with Fox News explained the difficult situation they face. He described a situation where men are reluctant to publically speak out against BP because of fears of losing their positions, which are the only source of income they have.
Even though the EPA has ordered BP to find a less-toxic dispersant, BP has not done so. Members of Congress are now joining the efforts to better protect the fishermen whose livelihoods have already been destroyed by demanding better safety precautions. Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., is urging the White House to set up temporary health clinics around the Gulf for these workers.
He said in a letter to the secretary of Health and Human Services, “It is imperative that temporary health care clinics be established to provide basic health care services in this geographic area,” and that many would have to travel hours to visit a physician otherwise.
The massive oil spill that occurred after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, has yet to be stopped.
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