Sunday, May 30, 2010

The 11 workers who died during the explosion that started the largest oil spill ever seen in the world are unlikely to be the only victims. Clean-up workers on the Gulf Coast are reporting an increasing number of illnesses caused by their exposure to the oil washing up on the beaches. There is now a Facebook group dedicated to pressuring for proper safety procedures for the workers involved in the cleanup. It also has a wealth of information from previous similar accidents. See 'Support Health and Safety protections for Gulf Oil Spill Clean-up'. Meanwhile here's a short article on what is happening from the US magazine 'In These Times'.
Oil Spill Clean-up Workers: We’re Getting Sick From Lack of Protective Gear
By Lindsay Beyerstein

Some fishermen hired by BP to clean up spill oil say they've become ill after being exposed to oil and dispersant without proper personal protective equipment.

Several south Louisiana fishermen working on the cleanup told the LA Times that they had developed headaches, coughing, nausea, and other symptoms. The workers said they'd been working without facemasks or gloves.

BP spokesman Graham McEwen told the Times that he was not aware that any workers were getting sick.

Yesterday, 125 fishing boats working off Breton Sound in Louisiana were called off the job after workers on three separate boats reported nausea, chest pain, and other symptoms. One worker had to be evacuated by air ambulance and two others were driven to hospital, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) wants the Department of Health and Human Services to set up mobile clinics for clean-up workers and send the bill to BP. Melancon outlined the proposal in a letter to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. As Melancon explained in the May 19 letter, workers are being exposed to hazardous materials on a daily basis and many are hours away from the nearest clinic.

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