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Archive | November, 2010

Illness Plagues Gulf Residents in BP’s Aftermath

Children playing in the surf at Orange Beach, Alabama. (Erika Blumenfeld)

Children playing in the surf at Orange Beach, Alabama. (Erika Blumenfeld)

Increasing numbers of U.S. Gulf Coast residents attribute ongoing sicknesses to BP’s oil disaster and use of toxic dispersants.

“Now I have a bruising rash all around my stomach,” Denise Rednour of Long Beach, Mississippi told IPS. “This looks like bleeding under the skin.”

Rednour lives near the coast and has been walking on the beach nearly every day since a BP oil rig exploded on Apr. 20. She has noticed a dramatically lower number of wildlife, and said that many days the smell of chemicals from what she believes are BP’s toxic dispersants fill the air.

Yet her primary concern is that she and many people she knows in the area have gotten sick.

“I have pain in my stomach, stabbing pains, in isolated areas,” Rednour added. “The sharp stabbing pain is all over my abdomen where this discolouration is, it’s in my arm pits and around my breasts. I have this dry hacking cough, my sinuses are swelling up, and I have an insatiable thirst.”

Rednour’s recent problems are a continuation of others that have beset her for months, including headaches, respiratory problems, runny nose, nausea, and bleeding from the ears.

In response to the massive spill last summer that released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of Corexit dispersants – which have been banned in 19 countries – to sink the oil. The dispersants contain chemicals that many scientists and toxicologists have warned are dangerous to humans, marine life and wildlife.

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BP blamed for toxification

Fisherman James Miller on his boat in Mississippi (Erika Blumenfeld)

Fisherman James Miller on his boat in Mississippi (Erika Blumenfeld)

James Miller, a commercial shrimper, lifelong fisherman in Mississippi and former BP oil response worker, is horribly sick.

“I’ve been vomiting, my head feels like it’s going to explode, diarrhoea, and I keep passing out,” Miller, who worked in BP’s so-called Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) oil response programme, said from his bed at Biloxi Regional Hospital on November 5.

Four days earlier, Miller, his wife and dog were boating on the Gulf of Mexico near one of Mississippi’s barrier islands when all three of them fell ill.

“My wife and I felt the chemicals immediately and my dog even started hacking like he was trying to cough up a bone,” Miller explained.

Later that day he began vomiting and experiencing a severe headache and diarrhoea. Then on November 4 he passed out in the shower. Concerned by his uncontrollable nausea and bleeding in his esophagus, his wife took him to the emergency room.

“The doctor just told me I have acid reflux,” Miller, who has been experiencing many of his symptoms since joining the VOO programme, said. “They don’t even know what this is. I told him I needed to be tested for toxic chemicals. I’m in a major hospital and they are telling me they don’t know what this is.”

Miller’s friend, Chris Balius, also a former VOO worker, was in a boat near Miller’s on that same day out on the Gulf.

“I was hit by it too,” Balius explained. “Headache, nausea, diarrhoea, and now my eyesight is failing. When I was in the VOO programme, I had to let someone else run my boat after 30 days because I got so sick. Every time I go on the water I get sick, so I no longer go, and don’t allow my family to go anymore.”

Joseph Yerkes, who lives on Okaloosa Island, Florida, was in BP’s VOO programme for more than two months, during which time he was exposed to oil and dispersants on a regular basis.

“I worsened progressively,” Yerkes said. “Mid-September I caught a cold that worsened until I went to a doctor, who gave me two rounds of antibiotics for the pneumonia-like symptoms, and he did blood tests and found high levels of toxic substances in my blood that he told me came from the oil and dispersants.”

Increasing numbers of people across the Gulf Coast are suffering from symptoms that doctors and toxicologists are linking to chemicals from the BP oil disaster that began last summer when the blowout of the Macondo well gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

BP responded by using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersant to sink the oil.

Read the rest of the story on Al-Jazeera…

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Is the Gulf of Mexico safe?

Gulf shrimp being offloaded at Dean Blanchard Seafood Distributors, Grand Isle, Louisiana

Gulf shrimp being offloaded at Dean Blanchard Seafood Distributors, Grand Isle, Louisiana (Erika Blumenfeld | Full Size)

Gulf Coast residents, fishermen, seafood distributors, and scientists believe that living on the coast and eating seafood from the Gulf has become hazardous to their health.

In response to their oil disaster last summer that released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic Corexit dispersants (which have been banned in 19 countries) to sink the oil. The dispersants contain chemicals that many scientists and toxicologists have warned are dangerous to humans, marine life, and wildlife.

Earlier this year on May 20, the EPA told BP it had 24 hours to find a less toxic alternative, but the EPA’s request was ignored. Then on May 25, BP was given a directive by the EPA to scale back their spraying of the Gulf of Mexico with dispersants. The Coast Guard overlooked the EPA’s directive and provided BP with 74 exemptions in 48 days to use the dispersants.

A March 1987 report titled Organic Solvent Neurotoxicity, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), states: “The acute neurotoxic effects of organic solvent exposure in workers and laboratory animals are narcosis, anesthesia, central nervous system (CNS) depression, respiratory arrest, unconsciousness, and death.”

Several chemicals and chemical compounds listed in the NIOSH report, such as styrene, toluene, and xylene, are now present in the Gulf of Mexico as the result of BP’s dispersants mixing with BP’s crude oil.

Read the full article and see more photos on Al-Jazeera English.

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Providence: Remember Fallujah

This event will consist of a panel of experts and eye-witnesses speaking on the human costs of the US led occupation of Iraq on the city of Fallujah.

Speakers

Dahr Jamail (Award winning independant journalist)

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi (Iraqi-American physitian and author)

Ross Caputi (Iraq veteran and participant in the 2nd Assault of Fallujah)

Dr. Muhamad Tareq Al-Darraji (Fallujah native and researcher)

Dr. Entesar Ariabi (former Head Pharmacist of Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad and researcher)

Location

Brown University, Barus & Holley building in room 168, 182 Hope St. Providence, RI

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