Far, Far Away From “All Clear”


The gap between the “all’s well” British Petroleum story and real-world reports from Gulf communities continues to grow. An example: Remember when that news crew took a water sample from near Dauphin Island Marina, only to have it literally explode when mixed with an organic solvent to separate oil from water? (The chemists blamed methane or the dispersant Corexit.)

Well, new reports from that area by the global IPS news service outline serious health problems among people exposed to the oil-spill aftermath.

Notes IPS in its report: “Pathways of exposure are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, dizziness, chest pains and tightness, irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs, difficulty breathing, respiratory system damage, skin irrigation and sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic damage and mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage, among several others.”

Gulf residents are reporting exactly those symptoms, and Hugh Kaufman, the EPA whistleblower who actually remains on as a senior analyst with the agency, has reported this on the effects of the toxic dispersant:

“We have dolphins that are hemorrhaging,” Kaufman has said in various media reports, including the IPS story. “People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do…And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around 50. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an… economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.”

And that comes from within the EPA. That’s about as far from an “all clear” as it gets.

The IPS story is here: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52471

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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