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Fishermen Report Illness From BP Chemicals
More and more stories about sick fishermen are beginning to surface after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The fishermen are working out in the Gulf -- many of them all day, every day -- to clean up the spill. They said they blame their ailments on the chemicals that BP is using.
One fisherman said he felt like he was going to die over the weekend.
"I've been coughing up stuff," Gary Burris said. "Your lungs fill up."
Marine toxicologist Riki Ott said the chemicals used by BP can wreak havoc on a person's body and even lead to death.
"The volatile, organic carbons, they act like a narcotic on the brain," Ott said. "At high concentrations, what we learned in Exxon Valdez from carcasses of harbor seals and sea otters, it actually fried the brain, (and there were) brain lesions."
The Environmental Protection Agency informed BP officials late Wednesday that the company has 24 hours to choose a less-toxic form of chemical dispersants to break up its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to government sources familiar with the decision, and must apply the new form of dispersants within 72 hours of submitting the list of alternatives.
The move is significant, because it suggests federal officials are now concerned that the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants could pose a significant threat to the Gulf of Mexico's marine life. BP has been using two forms of dispersants, Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A, and so far has applied 600,000 gallons on the surface and 55,000 underwater.
"Dispersants have never been used in this volume before," said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision hasn't been formally announced. "This is a large amount of dispersants being used, larger amounts than have ever been used, on a pipe that continues to leak oil and that BP is still trying to cap."