Even as BP and US government officials continue to declare the oil spill over at Mississippi Canyon 252 and the cleanup operation an unqualified success, for the first time blood tests on sickened humans have shown signs of exposure to high levels of toxic chemicals related to crude oil and dispersants. Some of the individuals tested have not been on the beaches, were not involved in any cleanup operations or in the Gulf water — they simply live along the Gulf Coast. Several of them are now leaving the area due to a combination of illness and economic hardship. As the media’s attention has moved on and the public interest wanes, the suffering and hardship for people along the entire Gulf Coast of the United States from Louisiana to Florida continues to worsen. While BP and the government are scaling back cleanup operations and distancing themselves from legal liability for the environmental destruction, economic hardship, sickness and death resulting from the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history, the situation continues to deteriorate.
The use of the Corexit dispersant 9500 and the highly toxic 9527 by BP, with the approval and assistance of the US Coast Guard and EPA, has been the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism. Never before has such a huge quantity of the toxic compound been used anywhere on the planet. Most countries including NATO allies ban it’s use and will only grant approval as a last resort after other methods have failed. Britain has banned its use altogether. The NOAA provided extensive information summarizing other nation’s policies in regards to Corexit after Senator Barbara Mikulski demanded the information from EPA administrator Lisa Jackson during congressional hearings in July. While the dispersant serves to break down crude oil on the surface and thus makes the oil invisible from the air, it is highly toxic and bioaccumulates in the marine food chain. In humans it is a known carcinogen and its use was widely condemned after Exxon/Valdez and the horrifying health effects on the populations exposed to it there. As it evaporates and becomes airborne, the toxic compounds have moved on shore, creating health impacts that, although apparently large from the numbers of people affected, the full extent is unknown. BP and the US government have effectively been performing the largest chemical experiment in history on a civilian population without their knowledge or consent.