What started in April of 2010 turned into the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Over an 87 day period, 200 million gallons of crude oil spilled out from the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The nation watched the leak intently, waiting to see how BP would fix the problem. The petroleum giant decided to “resolve” the issue using a product called Corexit. Corexit is an oil dispersant that helps break oil into small droplets following an oil spill. In theory, small droplets are easier to disperse throughout a water volume, and small droplets may be more readily biodegraded by microbes.
However, that’s not why BP decided to use a dispersant.
BP’s decision to use Corexit had more to do with public relations than with public health. When Corexit mixes with oil, it sinks below the surface of the water. By sinking into the water, the oil spill would no longer be visible from the air where news cameras flew. Out of sight, out of mind is what BP had hoped for. Their use of Corexit was simply done to get the public to stop talking about BP’s mess-up.
BP didn’t care that Corexit and other oil dispersants had already been banned in much of the world, as long as it was legal in the United States, BP was going to go ahead and pour nearly 2 million gallons of the stuff into the ocean. BP didn’t care that Corexit was highly dangerous to humans. Even the makers of Corexit warned that their product could cause problems to the central nervous system, irritations in the upper respiratory, and injury to red blood cells, the kidney, or the liver. BP just wanted to make sure the public wasn’t mad at them so they could keep making billions of dollars.
Unfortunately for us Americans, and more specifically to the people of the Gulf Coast, evidence suggests that the cleanup effort done by BP has been more catastrophic to the environment and human health than the spill itself. While BP advocated the Corexit “solution” as being safe, the truth is that oil mixed with Corexit is actually 52x more toxic to marine life than oil alone. Anecdotal evidence backs this up. Those in the Gulf fishing industry are reporting not only dwindled numbers of marine life, but highly deformed and unhealthy fish as well. About half the shrimp that are being caught today are deformed. Their gills are filled with the Corexit+oil mixture, and their scales are covered in tumors and other abnormalities.
BP claimed that the Corexit “cleanup” would help preserve the coastlines and marshlands, but that’s not true. Just because Corexit caused the oil to sink out of human sight doesn’t mean it disappeared. Millions of pounds of oily material is washing up every year. This toxic exposure threatens the ecological health of the entire Gulf, because coastlines and marshes are where the life cycle of most Gulf creatures begins.
The Corexit “cleanup” is also harming humans. Those workers who helped to clean the spill are suffering tremendously, as are their families. Many of those workers, most of which were locals, have been reporting health problems that are known as “BP Syndrome,” including: skin irritations (boils, blisters, lesions, rashes, and burns), respiratory system and nervous system damage, blood in urine, seizures, heart palpitations, kidney and liver damage, migraines, multiple chemical sensitivity, and temporary paralysis, plus long-term concerns about exposure to known carcinogens. Sadly, the children of those workers appear to be particularly susceptible to these health issues.
The civilian population of the Gulf is also at risk. The toxic Corexit+oil mixture gets sucked up into the clouds and comes down as rain. So not only are those who directly came into contact with the oil spill in danger, but so are their families, and so are all of the coastal regional who get exposed via contaminated seafood and toxic rain. Dr. Michael Robichaux (a former state senator of Louisiana) has seen identical symptoms in his patients all over the Gulf. He has seen people die from the toxic exposure and expects more to die as well.
BP has damaged America and has done so without guilt. Their public policy indicates that they will again use Corexit in the future, as long as it remains legal in the U.S. It’s time for the Citizens of America to fight back.
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