By Reivin Johnson
Cancer could be one of the long-term effects caused by the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill that occurred on the Louisiana Gulf Coast on April 20, 2010. Locals who came into contact with the oil dispersant, Corexit, have expressed concerns about the chemical’s effect on their health. Experts are surveying the health of the individuals that live in close proximity to the coast to assess whether BP should be held financially responsible.
In 2011, the law firm Earthjustice demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency release vital information about the ingredients in Corexit. Corexit disperses oil into smaller droplets, allowing the particles to move closer to the surface of the water for an easier cleanup. The chemical contains petroleum distillates which are known to cause cancer in animals.
Dr. Shaw says that during the cleanup BP released a statement proclaiming that Corexit was as hazardous as Dawn dishwashing soap. Dr. Shaw sites that even BP admitted Corexit’s carcinogenic properties in the company’s material safety data sheets. Shaw observes from the data sheets that at least five of Corexit’s chemicals are carcinogenic, which makes it plausible for BP to admit that cancer could be one of the long-term effects caused by the oil spill.
Fishermen from Louisiana proposed a settlement against BP that includes funding the medical treatment for 200,000 people. The settlement will cover up to $60,700 of medical bills for some individuals. The Huffington Post explains the settlement’s details, “It also provides for regular physical examinations every three years for up to 21 years, and it reserves a worker’s right to sue BP over conditions that develop down the road, if the worker believes he or she can prove a connection to the spill.”
Fishermen who helped with the cleanup are now being tested in a health survey. The study will investigate whether participants are likely to develop cancer or heart conditions. The cleanup crew workers reported signs of respiratory and skin ailments after coming into contact with oil and Corexit. Dr. Dale Sanders of the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences reports early findings that indicate communities situated near the oil spill site experienced a 30 percent increase in cases of depression when compared to surrounding areas.
Researchers are calling for more time to understand the oil spill’s impact on health, but local Louisiana fishermen, like Bert Ducote, are sure that they suffer from conditions caused by chemical dispersants. Ducote explained to journalists that he has developed boils on his skin and in his stomach despite wearing the recommended protective gear to prevent exposure to harmful chemicals. Ducote claims that BP has not restored the integrity of Louisiana’s coastal communities, “The little amount of money they’re trying to give us, it’s never going to replace our quality of life, our health.”
Dr. Edward Trapido leads a team of cancer specialists at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. According to Trapido, many workers did not comply with the required dress code while working with contaminated water and dispersants. This assessment explains why BP is not ready to take responsibility for all of the health conditions resulting from the oil spill.
Workers were given the opportunity to learn safety hazards during the training offered by BP, so the company insists that enough precautions were taken. BP reported to the Associated Press that they “provided safety training and appropriate personal protective equipment, and were monitored by federal agencies and BP to measure potential exposure levels and help ensure compliance with established safety procedures.”
The health survey will take another 10 years to confirm whether cancer could be one of the long-term effects caused by the BP oil spill even though evidence already supports that Corexit is carcinogenic. Many victims have already experienced short-term effects, but unfortunately, they will have to wait at their health’s expense to be compensated.
From GuardianIv.com – written by Reivin Johnson