Urgent: Please Sign Letter To Congress

All, and especially those of you along the Gulf Coast:

Riki Ott is sponsoring a letter to Congress and needs people to sign, either personally or on behalf of the group they represent. The letter requests Congress to take IMMEDIATE action during the lame duck session. Here is the gist (but full text of the letter is below, for those of you who love details):

“There are pressing needs, compelling reasons, and an opportunity to change this outcome by directing penalties paid by BP under the Clean Water Act to fund restoration of the Gulf Coast environment and public health.”

To sign, simply email your full name, city, state and zip code, and say that you wish to sign the Letter to Congress to: Spill Info [spillinfo(at)rikiott.com]. Endorsements from Gulf region NGO’s (“non-government organizations” – non-profits are included here) are especially needed, so please share this. THE LETTER WILL BE SUBMITTED BY COB FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2010. Yes this is short notice but how long does it really take you to send an email? Just do it, right now. Thanks!

November  xx, 2010

U.S. Senator Harry Reid                   U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader                                    Minority Leader
United States Senate                          United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                     Washington, DC 20510

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

We are writing to respectfully ask that you act this calendar year to support environmental restoration and environmental justice for coastal communities impacted in the Gulf region. The BP disaster released an unprecedented amount of oil and toxic chemical dispersants into the Gulf. If past oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez, Prestige (Spain), and Hebei Spirit (South Korea) are considered, it will take decades to fully understand the damage to the environment and human health. In the past, injury to environment and human health has largely been treated as collateral damage with costs of damage and restoration ignored as “externalities” of our oil-based economy.

There are pressing needs, compelling reasons, and an opportunity to change this outcome by directing penalties paid by BP under the Clean Water Act to fund restoration of the Gulf Coast environment and public health.

The pressing need to direct a portion of BP’s penalties to restoration of public health in the Gulf is the evidence of an illnesses epidemic in the Gulf coincident with BP’s release of oil and toxic chemicals. This widespread epidemic of respiratory and other very serious health effects in children, adults, and cleanup workers in the Gulf coast region is almost totally unremarked in the extensive media and political attention to the BP/Deepwater Horizon blowout disaster – just as it was for cleanup workers in Alaska twenty-one years ago.1 Nonetheless, by August, there was a full-blown chemical illness epidemic in the Gulf with symptoms and/or diagnoses of respiratory problems, chemical pneumonitis, sore throats and hoarseness, ear and nose bleeds, blisters in the throat and nose, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, persistent skin rashes and MRSA infections, peeling palms and soles, internal bleeding (rectal, blood in vomit and urine, massive bruising, bleeding esophagus), massive headaches, passing out, diarrhea, brain fog or inability to concentrate, and tingling appendages, among other things.2 These illnesses are consistent with overexposure to oil and chemical dispersants; i.e., industrial solvents.3 People, independent labs, and independent chemists took air and water quality samples – and found dangerous levels of oil and/or dispersant biomarkers in the coastal seas, bayous, public beaches, backyard swimming pools, rainwater, and the air.4 Further, a growing number of people are having medical doctors test their blood and have discovered dangerous levels of oil and/or dispersant biomarkers in their bodies.5 This medical evidence is building and will soon be an unavoidable fact that the nation will know and have to deal with.

The medical community of the Gulf and government agencies were not prepared to handle a public health epidemic of chemical illnesses. The federal government sampled air and water quality; the public was led to believe the Gulf region was safe.6 Arguably, no region of the country is prepared for this, because our laws are supposed to protect public health, but the public health laws have not been updated to reduce oil and chemicals in the environment, limit chemical exposure, or recognize chemical illnesses. Predictably, the illnesses are not responding to multiple rounds of antibiotics; chemical illnesses require special treatment and detoxification. People are seeking health care by qualified occupational and environmental medicine (OEM) doctors outside of the Gulf at high personal expense.

One of the most compelling reasons for Congress to address this is that it was very clear at the outset that the federal government was grossly complacent in a number of areas that led to the BP disaster. Examples abound: unrealistic contingency planning; over-reliance on industrial self-monitoring; regulatory capture; unnecessary exemptions to laws and regulations designed to protect the environment, workers, and the public; and very outdated worker safety and public health laws that are demonstrably inadequate to protect either workers or the public.

Another significant reason is that the government-approved release of dispersants was done as a desperate sacrifice of open ocean and deep sea life, allegedly to protect the coasts. Failing that, dispersant use continued in coastal waters in another desperate attempt to “disappear” the oil that washed ashore.7 The intentional release of dispersants was done without adequate scientific knowledge of impacts to the deep sea, open ocean, and coastal environments – or to people living or recreating at the coast. Thus, the release was the largest chemical experiment in history on a civilian population without their knowledge or consent – and the government was complicit in this draconian experiment.

Given the current situation in the Gulf, there is now an opportunity for bold and compassionate leadership. In the past, penalties and the reopener clause under the Clean Water Act have been limited to environmental restoration. This self-imposed limitation is not adequate for the current scope of the problems created by BP’s disaster and government complacency. Penalties can and should be expanded to include public health and welfare such as is currently allowed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Recovery Act (CERCLA) for chemical spills.8 Otherwise, there is no remedy for oil spill victims for restoration of public health and welfare under the Clean Water Act.

BP and other responsible parties are liable under the Clean Water Act for penalties that could ultimately exceed $20 billion. Currently, the law requires that Clean Water Act penalties be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and made available for future oil spills.

We are writing to request that penalties paid by BP under the Clean Water Act should instead be directed to fund Gulf Coast restoration, including both the environment and public health. Specifically, we are asking that at least one-third of the penalties be directed to: staffing community health care centers and hospitals in the Gulf with qualified OEM doctors; health care treatment outside or inside the Gulf for Gulf residents; and a region-wide, community-based, minimum 20-year epidemiology study, conducted by Gulf NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Further, we specifically request that public health restoration funds are not to be used for capital construction projects such as construction of health care centers.

Thank you for your consideration.


1/  Riki Ott, Sound Truth and Corporate Myths: the Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (Dragonfly Sisters Press, 2004), available online at www.rikiott.com/spillinfo.php

2/ http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_1162_Robin_Young.mp3/view



Hannah Rogers-Ganter, Inna Kraner, Nancy Frigo, and Maria Nunez, Community Health/Epidemiology, D.121, Boston College Law School  (November 3, 2010),





3/  http://bpoilslick.blogspot.com/2010/10/dr-michael-harbut-talks-about-human.html

4/    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rtIXO_Q4_E&feature=channel





Jessica Taloney, News 5 Investigates: Testing the Water, WKRG.com (July 18, 2010), http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/news-5-investigates-testing-the-water/906545/Jul-18-2010_7-40-pm/

5/    Jerry Cope, No Safe Harbor on Gulf Coast; Human Blood Tests Show Dangerous Levels of Toxic Exposure, HuffingtonPost.com (Sept. 2, 2010), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jerry-cope/no-safe-harbor-on-gulf-co_b_698338.html

Wilma Subra, Evaluation of the Results of Whole Blood Volatile Solvents Testing, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper (25 Oct., 2010), http://lmrk.org/issues/bp-s-deep-water-drilling-disaster/evaluation-of-the-results-of-whole-blood-volatile-solvents-testing.html

6/    Riki Ott, BP, Governments Downplay Public Health Risk From Oil and Dispersants, The Huffington Post (July 7, 2010), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riki-ott/the-big-lie-bp-government_b_638369.html

Riki Ott, Bioremediation or Biohazard? Oil, Dispersants, and Illness in the Gulf, The Huffington Post (September 17, 2010), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riki-ott/bio-remediation-or-bio-ha_b_720461.html


7/    Tracy Kuhns and Riki Ott, An Open Letter to US EPA Region 6, The Huffington Post (August 27, 2010), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riki-ott/an-open-letter-to-us-epa_b_697376.html

8/    Christopher Iaquinto, Chemical Dispersant Issues, D.108, Boston College Law School  (November 3, 2010),  https://wfs.bc.edu/plater/Boston%20College%20Land%20%26%20Envtl%20Law%20Program%20Submission%20to%20Natl%20BP%20Gulf%20Oilspill%20Commission/

27 thoughts on “Urgent: Please Sign Letter To Congress”

  1. cut out the use of COREXIT! Period!
    If you people in Congress do not abide by OUR wishes,
    we are not responsible for the events that follow.
    As for M McConnell, wake up.

  2. I wish to sign the letter to Congress! I would also like to send my most heart felt gratitude to all the people who are working so hard to look out for the welfare of all the innocent victims of this horrific nightmare. Restoration of public health should be at the top of priorities. To all the people in high places who can effectively insure that these urgent priorities are met, I have only one thing to say, where you stand on this will determine your ‘worth’, to the universe, to God, to mankind, to the planet, and TO YOURSELVES!

  3. History will hold you accountable for you actions or lack of action…The gulf is not some 3rd world country begging for money,they are some of the most gracious hosts in the USA.They deserve better treatment…

  4. What is happening to the people living in the Gulf area is horrible! I never thought I would see such a thing happening to our people as the result of carelessness of a huge company like BP – and see the effects of it making people so sick and our government not stepping in to take care of the people! This is a disgrace to our government and shows the blatant disregard for human life to cow tow to big corporations! The world is watching.

  5. Ricki Ott what a tireless campaigner in the face of all obstacles, if you had been a mountain climber you would have already scaled every peak worth climbing; you are a hero.

  6. I am signing this letter too, and I am hoping that Congress will listen to all what is written in it and then ACT accordingly! How long do we people have to keep on telling and looking on how we are being ignored? This has to stop and now.

  7. Thank you Riki for your tireless efforts to help the victims of the BP oil spill….people, wildlife,ecosystems, ocean life, air , water, food. This disaster is BP’s responsibility. It is imperative that the Gulf residents are not forgotten and the spill should not be forgotten. The oil and the damage is still there.

  8. Everyone who’s reading this, make sure that you’re following through on the email to Riki. It only takes about 30 seconds to type her email and the brief details she needs to add you to the letter.

  9. I am in absolute agreement with Dr. Ott. Our people and our land is not getting the support we/it needs from our government. Ban Corexit, stop the use NOW! Take care of OUR people! We are fast becoming a laughing stock to the rest of the world. They ARE watching! America for Americans! The documentation is overwhelming that the events in the gulf and it’s effects on people and the environment is deadly! PROPER PRIORITIES PLEASE!

  10. The majority of we citizens of the United States have lost trust, faith and respect for most of the public officials and our government in general for their dereliction of duty which they took a solemn oath to uphold. The history of the Oath for Federal employees is traced to the Constitution, where Article II includes the specific oath the President takes – to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Article VI requires an oath by all other government officials from all three branches, the military, and the States. It simply states that they “shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution.” The very first law passed by the very first Congress implemented Article VI by setting out this simple oath in law: “I do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”
    All public officials if they wish to remain in office can restore the respect and support of We the People only if they honor their solemn oaths of office and focus on the well-being of
    We the People. We the People are the foundation of the United States, and without us this formerly grand Republic will crumble to dust along with all public office holders. I plead with all public officials to think outside the box in which you are trapped and see the broader humanitarian picture. We the People are much more worthy than the soulless Corporations, International Banking and Financial Cartels, and etc. who manipulate the economies of the world to the detriment of all populations on this planet.

  11. I would like to add my signature to the letter sent by Riki Ott. Dr. Ott is absolutely correct. This is what needs to happen for this region and the residents as well as any additional exposure victims. My family and I were affected just as Dr. Ott described. This is a surreal experience for all involved to realize this is happening in our country. Thank you for all your hard work Dr. Ott.

  12. Clean up the mess in the gulf, I had a house in Destin Fl. we didn’t ask for this crap clean it up!!!!!!!

    I had people come down for Memorial Day and we were having to move around the BP!!!! people cleaning the beach around the Crab Trap in Destin, and it was something like I had never seen i have been going to this beach since 1974. CLEAN IT UP NO EXCUSES!!!!!!

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