by Grayson, Earth First! Newswire
Photo from evelynwithoutoil.blogspot.com
A recent article in Newsweek outlines the shocking health problems, including neurological damage, that workers and residents at the 2010 BP oil spill disaster site have suffered in the three years since the incident. Considering the insane amount of oil spills that have taken place in the last couple months, it was too relevant to ignore.
As Newsweek writes, one victim of the spill, Jamie Griffin, was feeding cleanup crews during the disaster. Representatives from BP told Jamie that the oil tracking into her workspace was “safe,” and that she should “just mop it up,” which she attempted to do, having no idea the pain it was going to cause:
Within days, the 32-year-old single mother was coughing up blood and suffering constant headaches. . . Like hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers on the cleanup, Griffin soon fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments. By July, unstoppable muscle spasms were twisting her hands into immovable claws. In August, she began losing her short-term memory. . . The right side, but only the right side, of her body “started acting crazy. It felt like the nerves were coming out of my skin. It was so painful. My right leg swelled—my ankle would get as wide as my calf—and my skin got incredibly itchy.”
“These are the same symptoms experienced by soldiers who returned from the Persian Gulf War with Gulf War syndrome,” says Dr. Michael Robichaux, a Louisiana physician and former state senator, who treated Griffin and 113 other patients with similar complaints. As a general practitioner, Robichaux says he had “never seen this grouping of symptoms together: skin problems, neurological impairments, plus pulmonary problems.”
Cleanup workers were not the only victims; coastal residents also suffered. “My 2-year-old grandson and I would play out in the yard,” says Shirley Tillman of the Mississippi coastal town Pass Christian. “You could smell oil and stuff in the air, but on the news they were saying it’s fine, don’t worry. Well, by October, he was one sick little fellow. All of a sudden, this very active little 2-year-old was constantly sick.”
Much of this pain and suffering was not caused by the oil alone, but by BP’s response to the spill; as if allowing hundreds of thousands of barrels of deadly crude oil to flow into the Gulf of Mexico wasn’t enough, many of you may remember that BP used a “dispersant” to “clean-up” (read: hide) the oil. The dispersant they used was Corexit, a substance that has now been found to make crude oil 52 times as toxic. Corexit is still a standard dispersant used for oil spill cleanups, as it is approved for use by the Oil Pollution Act. This dispersant likely played a large role in the physical and neurological damage workers and volunteers are still suffering today.