Potential Human Hazard: High

(See new update since below was posted)

That’s the official safety description for the dispersants that our government approved for use in the gulf oil spill. By BP’s own admission they have conducted no studies on the material and acknowledge that this stuff could make a lot of people ill, or dead. And yet, our government, which is supposed to represent the people, quickly put their stamp of approval on it. We already know that BP has and will lie their way right through this entire ordeal. And if you question that, have a look at what Marine Toxicologist Riki Ott tells us about the long-term health of Alaskans who were exposed to both the oil and dispersant toxins following the Exxon Valdez spill. This is from her article: At What Cost? BP Spill Responders Told to Forgo Precautionary Health Measures in Cleanup:

During the 1989 cleanup in Alaska, thousands of workers had what Exxon medical doctors called, “the Valdez Crud,” and dismissed as simple colds and flu. Fourteen years later, I followed the trail of sick workers through the maze of court records, congressional records, obituaries, and media stories, and made hundreds of phone calls. I found a different story. As one former cleanup worker put it, “I thought I had the Valdez Crud in 1989. I didn’t think I’d have it for fourteen years.”

In 1989 Exxon knew cleanup workers were getting sick: Exxon’s clinical data shows 6,722 cases of upper respiratory “infections”–or more likely work-related chemical induced illnesses. Exxon also knew workers were being overexposed to oil vapors and oil particles as verified through its air-quality monitoring program contracted to Med-Tox. The cleanup workers never saw results of this program. Neither did OSHA, the agency supposedly charged to oversee and independently monitor Exxon’s worker-safety program.

Alarmed by the “chemical poisoning epidemic,” as expert witness Dr. Daniel Teitelbaum would later call it when he testified on behalf of sick workers, Exxon created a partial release form to indemnify itself from future health claims. Exxon paid its workers $600.50 to sign it, as I discovered in court records.

As I understand it, the point of the extra $.50 was to force everyone who signed a waiver to have to claim it on their taxes (anything over $600 must be reported to the IRS), so that if someone filed a claim Exxon could quickly access their tax returns and know if that individual signed the waiver or not. My stomach turns just writing about that.

And now:

BP is assuring [local fisherman] they don’t need respirators or other special protection from the crude oil, strong hydrocarbon vapors, or chemical dispersants being sprayed in massive quantities on the oil slick.

Fishermen have never seen the results from the air-quality monitoring patches some of them wear on their rain gear when they are out booming and skimming the giant oil slick. However, more and more fishermen are suffering from bad headaches, burning eyes, persistent coughs, sore throats, stuffy sinuses, nausea, and dizziness. They are starting to suspect that BP is not telling them the truth.

And based on air monitoring conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a Louisiana coastal community, those workers seem to be correct. The EPA findings show that airborne levels of toxic chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, and volatile organic compounds like benzene, for instance, now far exceed safety standards for human exposure.

Now, of course we know that BP will say whatever it takes to make a buck. If you still aren’t sure about that fact, check out this article, where BP told feds it could handle oil spill 60 times larger than Deepwater Horizon. It’s pretty obvious that was one giant “misstatement” of fact. But, and this is the REALLY important part of the article, even if the press did tuck it away all neatly at the end:

A safety data sheet about the principal dispersant that the company has reported using during the ongoing spill says “no toxicity studies have been conducted on this product,” and labels “the potential human hazard: High.”

I suppose if you’re a BP executive living in Europe, or for that matter a politician in Washington who vacations in The Hamptons on weekends, well you probably just want this whole mess to go away, no matter how it’s done. After all, you and your family will not be affected, will not be made sick and hey, if a few hundred thousand people get and stay sick for the rest of their lives as a result – well it was worth it to get the press off our backs about this nightmare.

Few question the fact that our politicians have been in bed with big oil for decades. Few question that big oil has made these elected officials their b****’s, and that we have a Capitol full of (to quote Charlie Daniels) “lily livered, pantywaist, forked tongued, sorry excuses for defenders of The Constitution”. I couldn’t have said it better.

This is our nation and it’s time we got together, took a stand and said that it’s not for sale, neither is our health, neither are our waters, our land, or any other precious resource. If these pushovers in Washington aren’t willing to stand up for what’s right, even (and especially) if that means to the companies that put money in their pockets then we need to find men and women who will. But right now, we need to come together and take our nation back!

Remember the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

UPDATE (10:30a.m.) EPA informs BP to use less toxic chemicals to break up oil spill Wow, what must they have seen in the last couple of weeks during application of these chemicals? I shudder to think, but I’m so happy to hear EPA has stood up and put a stop to it.

I encourage you all to stay informed and demand answers, information and the highest level of care for health and safety throughout this process.