Talk about “making it right” is cheap: If you want to know BP’s real priorities, look at where the oil giant spends its money. A hundred million plus for its own PR spin, then millions more for state-based PR to placate local officials…but when it comes to things like health care for local workers and coastal indigents – many of whom were doing fine until BP destroyed their way of life – those numbers are next to nothing.
Obviously, that’s a short-term and immediate crisis, but it’s also part of what I’ve called the “disaster on the installment plan.” A case in point can be seen in some important work being done by Wilma Subra, the environmental scientist and former vice-chair of the EPA National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology. Ms. Subra reports that of eight blood samples collected from BP cleanup workers in August, ALL eight tested positive for chemicals found in the BP oil.
The tests at a Florida laboratory checked for Volatile Organic Chemicals associated with a host of serious health problems. Subra’s disturbing findings cry out for a more sustained public-health response. To that end, I am calling for immediate funding from BP for coastal health clinics. We need to ensure people are getting the care they need. An improved public-health response would not only be costly for BP – or, more likely, the taxpayers – but it would also tie the oil giant to all those health problems that won’t surface for years.
That’s important as the November transition begins for BP claims payments. Spill victims who know that dangerous BP-fingerprinted chemicals are already in their blood might be less willing to sign away future legal options in order to secure a final settlement from the Feinberg claims facility. And avoiding liability – really, another way of saying “avoiding responsibility” – is the real BP priority here.
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