12 months of health rights violations
After over a year of US government and mainstream media neglect of millions of people suffering from BP’s April 2010 Gulf oil disaster chemicals, including Corexit bioengineered bacteria, Monday, 154 organizations united to defend human rights of Gulf Coast people. A letter was signed and sent by the coalition of organizations urging immediate action by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius to avert the growing health crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.
Human rights groups, including various public health, environmental and fishermen’s advocates, called on Jackson and Sebelius to end the health rights violations by taking immediate action to help the people of the Gulf coast now suffering health impacts and those who will become ill due to continuing impacts of the BP oil disaster.
The letter stated that the signatories want a complete list of Corexit ingredients including not only the chemicals, but also bio-engineered bacteria.
Gulf Coast residents report that the dispersant Corexit is still being applied, despite government claiming the lethal practice ended. Corexit is banned in other countries due to its lethality.
Growing health crisis
“While the administration is investigating the BP Disaster and prosecuting malfeasance and negligence, it’s far too soon to declare: “mission accomplished,” said Marc Yaggi, Acting Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance.
“A vitally important component of ‘making it right’ will be to swiftly recognize and address the impacts on the people’s health to ensure a full restoration in the Gulf.”
The groups are also requesting in a letter that steps be taken to restore the Gulf coast plus to determine and implement appropriate solutions to the growing health crisis on the Gulf coast.
The groups are urging:
- Comprehensive restoration. The region’s health, economy, and environment are interconnected and solutions must reflect this.
- A Gulf Coast Health Restoration Task Force that includes community members with decision-making authority to address our long and short-term health needs.
- Implementation of the Oil Spill Commission Report Recommendations on health. The Oil Spill Commission stated that EPA should develop distinct plans and procedures to address human health impacts during a Spill of National Significance (See pages 38-39).
- Publication of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) type documents containing lists of potential synergistic health effects of exposure to the combination of oil, dispersants, oil and dispersants combined, any natural and/or bioengineered bacteria, and any other chemical or “natural” product used in response to the BP spill.
Louisiana Environmental Action Network emphasized in a written statement Monday that “the health crisis in the Gulf coast region is only just beginning to manifest itself.”
Between April 20 and July 15, 2010, an estimated 1.84 million gallons of Corexit 9500 and 9527 was applied to BP crude oil -1.07 million to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and 771,000 gallons to the wellhead subsurface.
For every 93 gallons of oil discharged, one gallon of dispersant was applied according to LEAN.
“This was an unprecedented environmental disaster with never before seen quantities of toxic crude oil and dispersants released into our Gulf environments. It is unfathomable that the government has not yet acted to help those that have become ill,” said Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper Paul Orr.
“There is no understanding of what this toxic cocktail has done and will continue to do to the health of those living on the Gulf coast. This must be addressed now, before beleaguered local and state health agencies end up playing catch-up with a crisis beyond their capacity to deal with.”
Though oil discharged for 87 days, communities still report continued dispersant spraying, seeing oil continue to wash up on their shores, and suffering devastating impacts on the marine life on which they make their living. In addition, one year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the people of the Gulf coast are still in need of proper diagnosis, treatment, and medical monitoring.
There is no government forum for those suffering from or concerned about the short and long term health impacts of the disaster to share their stories and solutions, and from which to expect guidance and action.
“The use of toxic dispersants, to sink BP’s oil, created an ecosystem and human health nightmare for people and communities whose day to day lives are still intimately connected to the natural resources. By failing to ensure immediate, qualified diagnosis and treatment of human health impacts, the Obama administration is effectively allowing BP to use Gulf Coast families as guinea pigs,” said Louisiana Bayoukeeper Tracy Kuhns.
“If, as promised, Gulf Coast families and communities are to be made whole, important natural resource damage recovery and restoration cannot move forward without addressing human health damage.”
The 154 groups that signed the letter to Administrator Jackson and Secretary Sibelius can be viewed on the Save Our Gulf website.
This Gulf Coast disaster is not over and still needs the reader’s help according to LEAN.