Fishermen Helping With BP Oil Spill Clean-Up Becoming Ill
With their livelihood threatened, many Louisiana fishermen have taken temporary emergency clean-up jobs with BP as part of the oil company’s “Vessels of Opportunity” program. What it’s turning out to be, however, is an opportunity for many of the fishermen to become very ill.
The culprit appears to be the crude oil itself as well as the chemical dispersants being used by BP to try to break up the massive oil slick. The Corexit 9500 dispersant is highly toxic, enough so that the EPA demanded BP switch to a less toxic chemical. BP refused and the results have been predictable. Clean up crew members are experiencing dizziness, rashes, headaches, and nausea. These are the same symptoms suffered by some members of the clean-up crews that worked on the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989. The same chemical dispersant was used then, too. Traces of that poison can still be found in animals living around Prince William Sound.
BP obviously didn’t learn much from their gross mistake of taking safety shortcuts. The fishermen participating in the clean-up do not have the necessary HazMat personal protective equipment to protect them from exposure to the dispersant chemical. The fishermen themselves are reluctant to create too much of a ruckus as they don’t want to endanger the only source of income they have - from the same company that cost them their jobs in the first place.
image credit: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press