Workers still sick, BP still lying, 3 years after Deepwater Horizon spill

  • Published on April 22nd, 2013

BP's Deepwater Rig on fire in the Gulf of Mexico

Remember how, three years ago, we reported that BP was using a nasty, toxic, chemical cocktail to disperse the oil that was gushing out of it’s blown Maconda Deepwater Horizon well?

Remember how BP insisted the chemicals were perfectly safe?

Well, it should come as no surprise that BP was lying.

Newsweek (yes, it still exists, although now it’s just an on-line presence and part of the Daily Beast) has a terrifying report up this week.

“It’s as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid.” That’s what Jamie Griffin says the BP man told her about the smelly, rainbow-streaked gunk coating the floor of the “floating hotel” where Griffin was feeding hundreds of cleanup workers during the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, the workers were tracking the gunk inside on their boots. Griffin, as chief cook and maid, was trying to clean it. But even boiling water didn’t work.

“The BP representative said, ‘Jamie, just mop it like you’d mop any other dirty floor,’” Griffin recalls in her Louisiana drawl.

But that didn’t work. And soon, Jamie and other workers became desperately sick.

Within days, the 32-year-old single mother was coughing up blood and suffering constant headaches. She lost her voice. “My throat felt like I’d swallowed razor blades,” she says.

Then things got much worse.

Like hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers on the cleanup, Griffin soon fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments. By July, unstoppable muscle spasms were twisting her hands into immovable claws. In August, she began losing her short-term memory.

And BP? BP lied.

  • They lied about the amount of oil that gushed into the Gulf – last year they pled guilty to that and 14 other felonies and payed a $4.5 billion fine.
  • They were warned before-hand about the dangers of using the dispersant Corexit, instead of actually cleaning up the oil – but they went ahead, and then lied about the dangers.
  • Because they lied about the dangers, they of course had to lie about what safety measures people needed to take. So people got terribly sick.

The Government Accountabity Project, a watchdog group, has gotten a hold of the Corexit manual (why is this only being reported now? I guess big media had a vested interest in helping BP make the oil spill a “no big deal” story.) You can download their report here.

BP’s priority wasn’t to clean up the Gulf – it was to make the oil LOOK like it had gone away. That was what Corexit did –  the resulting 100521-G-8744K-004mix of oil and dispersant was even more toxic than petroleum alone, but you didn’t see it washing up on beaches and fouling birds and wildlife with black sticky gunk.

As Newsweek notes,

On the basis of interviews with dozens of cleanup workers, scientists, and Gulf Coast residents, GAP concludes that the health impacts endured by Griffin were visited upon many other locals as well. What’s more, the combination of Corexit and crude oil also caused terrible damage to gulf wildlife and ecosystems, including an unprecedented number of seafood mutations; declines of up to 80 percent in seafood catch; and massive die-offs of the microscopic life-forms at the base of the marine food chain. GAP warns that BP and the U.S. government nevertheless appear poised to repeat the exercise after the next major oil spill: “As a result of Corexit’s perceived success, Corexit … has become the dispersant of choice in the U.S. to ‘clean up’ oil spills.”

Read the whole thing….

(Photos courtesy of the Coast Guard.)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
  • BP broke promises? That’s no surprise. In addition to health and environmental damage, the company continues to devastate Gulf Coast businesses and the regional economy. See