In a disappointing but effective article by Aljazeera, Gulf Coast residents and scientists discuss their trials with the EPA and the NOAA in which they continually try to get the attention of the two agencies to address their ongoing health questions about the toxicity of the oil and the dispersants many believe continue to be used in the Gulf. Time after time the EPA and NOAA don’t return phone calls or won’t address the issue, even when independent lab tests prove residents are being poisoned.
“Michelle Nix, from Pensacola, Florida, founded the group Gulf Coast Oil Spill Volunteers. Nix helped organise blood tests for several Gulf coasts residents who were experiencing sicknesses attributed to toxic chemicals released from BP’s well blow-out and the dispersants the company has used to sink the oil. In October, Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, conducted the blood tests for volatile solvents – chemicals present in BP’s crude oil as well as their toxic dispersants – on eight people Nix provided who live and work along the coast. Most of the people tested had these toxic chemicals present in their blood at levels several times higher than the national average. On November 8, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson headed a meeting of the Gulf Oil Spill Task Force in Pensacola, which activist Michelle Nix attended. “I hand delivered these blood test results to Lisa Jackson,” Nix said, “She told me she would get back in touch with me, as well as that she would get in touch with Dr. Subra.” It is nearly a month later, and Nix has not heard from Lisa Jackson or the EPA. Dr. Subra, who is actively working with the EPA on issues beyond the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, is still waiting to hear from them about the blood test results. “I have not heard back from the EPA about the blood tests,” Subra told Al Jazeera, “I’m working with the EPA on a host of other issues, including superfund issues and hydraulic fracking. So let me be clear that they are not ignoring me on other issues. But with the blood tests, I have not heard from them.”
“In response to their oil disaster last summer that released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic Corexit dispersants (which have been banned in 19 countries) to sink the oil. The dispersants contain chemicals that many scientists and toxicologists have warned are dangerous to humans, marine life, and wildlife. Residents in Mississippi and Louisiana told Al Jazeera that they believe BP continues to use the toxic dispersants, but the EPA will not respond to their appeals for information and help. Jesse Fineran works within the Hancock County Mississippi Emergency Management Agency as an oil spill response worker within the Emergency Operations Center. “They keep spraying [dispersants],” Fineran told Al Jazeera, “We keep seeing this foam coming in just about everyday. His attempts to alert EPA of the ongoing use of dispersants, as well as many other concerns he has about BP’s response to the disaster, have been largely ignored. Fineran, who continues to work within the Emergency Response Center for Mississippi added, “Nothing the EPA has told us has turned out to be true.”
Shirley and Don Tillman from Pass Christian, Mississippi, have been outspoken in their belief that BP’s dispersants have been making people sick. They were in BP’s oil response Vessels of Opportunity program, and several of their family members and friends are sick from what they believe are chemicals in BP’s dispersants. On October 19th they were visited by Special Agent James Kejonen from NOAA, and Special Agent Ben Bryant with US Fish and Wildlife. The agents told the Tillman’s they were collecting information for a government investigation into dispersants and possible problems associated with them. “I gave them a sample we’d taken from Long Beach that I thought had Corexit,” Shirley Tillman told Al Jazeera. “They were very friendly and seemed sincere, but we haven’t heard back from either of them, and they won’t return our phone calls.”
Government agencies, the American citizens’ tax-dollars pay for, ignoring American citizens, the same citizens who are in the Gulf, experiencing the effects of the BP oil spill firsthand. It would seem, in a rational world, these citizens would simply have to take their concerns and questions to the governmental agencies responsible to assist them, to help put their mind at ease or at least give answers to their questions, initiate an investigation…respond in any sort of way, but that’s not the way things work in the Gulf.
One might begin to question why this is?
Is it politics? Is it a cover-up? Is the problem so large nobody can figure out how to address it? Is it legal maneuvering? Is it a government working at the behest of a large corporation due to some alternative, unspoken arrangement? Is it simple disregard? Is it waiting for more conclusive test results? Is it trying to get a handle on the best way to spin an unforseen health crisis? Is it an attempt to make the problem go away by ignoring it, by attrition, by wearing everyone down until they just shut-up?
Maybe some of these, maybe none of these or all of these.
Hard to know for sure…but there is one thing for sure, one thing most certain…on the part of the EPA, the NOAA and British Petroleum:
It is fucking irresponsible.
Have a nice day.