BP Oil Spill Medical Settlement Claims. More and more workers involved in the BP oil spill cleanup are reporting disturbing health symptoms. Some evidence also indicates that BP is attempting to conceal the true extent of this problem. In many instances, BP has denied workers the equipment, including respirators, which could protect their health. In Louisiana alone, more than 100 workers have so far complained of nausea, breathing problems, skin rashes and headaches. Illnesses have been reported in other states as well. If you are involved in oil spill cleanup, and have suffered respiratory problems, skin rashes or other ailments, we urge to call us today.
Workers sickened as a result of exposure to oil spill toxins are entitled to compensation for medical bills and other expenses. It is important that your symptoms be documented, and that you obtain experienced legal counsel today. Our firm has represented many oil spill victims, and we are committed to making sure BP is held accountable for disregarding the health of the people it employs.
Our firm is offering a free consultation to anyone who believes the BP oil spill is making them sick. Please call us today to protect your legal rights.
Health Hazards Faced by BP Oil Spill Cleanup Workers
According to the National Resources Defense Council, various components of crude oil, such as benzene, toluene and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, present risks. All are known carcinogens. Other components of oil, like mercury and lead, are also toxic. Acute health effects could result from the air pollution from the oil itself, as well as from efforts to burn off the oil.
Exposure to benzene and other chemicals found in oil can also cause longer-term effects, including the potential for miscarriage or low birth weight in pregnant women. People with underlying respiratory conditions such as emphysema or asthma are also at increased risk of health problems from the spill.
Of the 128 reports of illness among oil spill workers in Louisiana, 21 have so far resulted in hospitalizations. According to a CNN report, some workers – most of whom are fisherman unemployed because of the spill – have reported that BP hasn’t provided respirators or other gear that could protect them from toxic substances. Some refused to speak to CNN out of fears BP would fire them from cleanup work if they did.
Mental health problems are also starting to appear among workers in Louisiana, as well as residents whose lives have been upended by the spill. In June, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine asked that BP pay $10 million for the purposes of paying for “six months of mental health services to people affected by the spill,” Teams have counseled nearly 2,000 people in those areas affected by the disaster. Counselors report that people are complaining of “increases in anxiety, depression, stress, grief, excessive drinking, earlier drinking and suicidal ideation,” according to Levine.
Other states have also seen spill-related illnesses. At the time of this writing, Alabama officials said that at least 58 people have gone to local emergency rooms, clinics and urgent care centers since May 14 with such complaints. Thirty-four of the patients who complained of oil-caused symptoms were exposed via inhalation, 17 by contact, three through ingestion and four patients reported multiple exposures.
In July, health officials in Escambia County, Fla., which includes Pensacola Beach, reported that about 400 people claimed they felt sick after visiting the beach and swimming in the Gulf. The illnesses reported included sore eyes, respiratory problems, skin irritation and nausea.
Oil Spill Health Risks
Symptoms reported include dizziness, nausea and breathing issues. It is well known that workers exposed to oil spill toxins are at risk for long-term health problems. According to the National Resources Defense Council, various components of crude oil, such as benzene, toluene and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, present risks. All are known carcinogens. Other components of oil, like mercury and lead, are also toxic.
According to a CNN report, workers involved in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup are still reporting health problems. One examination of health records of 11,000 Exxon Valdez cleanup workers found that 6,722 of them had gotten sick. The government and the company called those illnesses the “Exxon crud,” a flu or cold that Exxon was not required to report to federal health officials, CNN said.
Unfortunately, neither Exxon nor the government has conducted any long-term studies on the health problems experienced by the workers. However, an environmental activist who did study the Exxon Valdez disaster told CNN that cleanup workers in the Gulf are showing “the exact identical symptoms down here that we had 21 years ago.”
Is BP Trying to Hide the Truth?
There is some evidence that BP and the federal government are trying to downplay, and even hide, the true extent of oil spill-related illnesses. While Louisiana has reported 162 people sickened in that state, BP has only reported five cases in the entire Gulf Coast.
The human rights group, the RFK Center, has also reported that BP is discouraging workers from using respirators. Fisherman involved in the cleanup reportedly told Center officials that BP representatives said the equipment was “unnecessary and would only spread hysteria.”
In July, a journalist from the PBS Newshour reported that BP and federal officials would not allow the media access to a “federal mobile medical unit” in Venice, Louisiana:
“The glorified double-wide trailer sits on a spit of newly graveled land known to some as the “BP compound.” Ringed with barbed wire-topped chain link fencing, it’s tightly restricted by police and private security guards.”
According to the report, the PBS Newshour team tried for more than two weeks to arrange a visit to the unit to get a sense of how many people were being treated. In every case, they were either denied access or ignored.
In June, one fisherman working on the oil spill cleanup filed suit against BP after he was hospitalized for respiratory problems, headaches and nausea. The plaintiff sought to compel BP to give workers masks and not harass those who publicly voiced their health concerns. The complaint also requested that BP refrain from “altering, testing or destroying clothing or any other evidence or potential evidence” when workers become ill. In his affidavit, the plaintiff claimed BP confiscated his clothing after he became ill, and he was told it would not be returned.
According to CNN, the president of the Louisiana Shrimpers Association has also accused BP of threatening to fire fisherman – most of whom are unemployed because of the spill – from cleanup work if they complain about health problems. In some cases, workers have been threatened with firing if they wear masks, he said.
CNN also reported that fisherman it contacted did not want to speak publicly, with some expressing fears that they could lose their jobs with BP.