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The PCCC petition begins by drawing a comparison between "the denial of protective gear that hurt so many 9/11 clean-up workers" and reports from public-health advocates that BP has denied requests for respiratory protection from Gulf oil leak responders.
"President Obama and the federal government must demand that BP allow every clean-up worker who wants to wear respiratory protective equipment to do so -- and ensure that workers get the equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely," the petition states.
When Ryan Heffernan, a volunteer with Emerald Coastkeeper, noticed a bag of oily debris floating off in Santa Rosa Sound, she ran up to BP's HazMat-trained workers to ask if they would retrieve it.
"No, ma'am," one replied politely. "We can't go in the ocean. It's contaminated."
Ryan waded in and retrieved the bag. That was Wednesday, June 23, the first day visible oil hit Pensacola Beach. Ryan had been swimming off the beach the day before, as she said, "to get in my last swim before the oil hit." The trouble is that not all of the oil coming ashore is visible. Dispersed oil - tiny bubbles of oil encased in chemical dispersants - are in the water column. On Thursday Ryan was treated at a local doctor's office for skin rash on her legs.
Three days later on Pensacola Beach, I watched BP's HazMat-trained workers shovel surface oiled sand and oily debris into bags early in the morning. The workers followed the waterline like shorebirds, scurrying up the beach in front of breaking waves and moving back down with receding waters.
The late morning sun retired the workers to the shade of their tents and the job of "observing," while it brought out throngs of beach-goers -- children, parents, grandparents -- who happily plunged into the "contaminated" ocean without a second thought.
[For complete article reference links, please see source at Huffington Post here.]
I was astounded. Why did people think the ocean was safe for swimming?
There were five HazMat tents, four front-loaders, and at least two dozen HazMat workers on the beach. HazMat workers wore yellow over-boots duct-taped to their long pants' legs to minimize risk of contact with the water. The white surf popped with visible black tar balls as it rolled towards the beach. Waves left an oily signature of tar balls on the beach, melting in the sun. The treads of my Chacos weighed down with oily sand despite trying to avoid the mess. Most people were barefoot. Hotels set up oil cleaning stations on their premises - and signs saying the water advisory (put in place after Ryan's incident) had been lifted.
What's wrong with this picture?
Lots. For starters, Ryan's story from Pensacola Beach is not an isolated incident. I have received emails and heard personal stories from Louisiana to Florida of people who have developed skin rashes and blisters from going in the ocean. People describe stings by "invisible jellyfish." Turtle patrol volunteers who walk beaches daily write of blisters and bronchitis. And then there are individuals like Sheri Allen who took her dog for a walk on a beach in Mobile Bay in May.
Sheri wrote me that her "arms and legs were burning, even after the shower. The following morning ... (there were) ... small blood blisters. By evening the blisters had begun to welt. By the fourth day, the areas had got larger and swollen." She went to see a doctor but the sores remain and they have begun to scar her arms and legs. For several days after Sherri's incident, her husband found fish kills on the beach.
William Rea, MD, who founded the Environmental Health Center-Dallas, treated a number of sick Exxon Valdez cleanup workers. He once told me, "When you have sick people and sick animals, and they are sick because of the same chemical, that's the strongest evidence possible that that chemical is a problem."
It's not just skin rashes and blisters. At community forums, I commonly hear from adults and children with persistent coughs, stuffy sinuses, headaches, burning eyes, sore throats, ear bleeds, and fatigue. These symptoms are consistent across the four Gulf states that I have visited. Further, the symptoms of respiratory problems, central nervous system distress, and skin irritation are consistent with overexposure to crude oil through the two primary routes of exposure: inhalation and skin contact.
Originally posted by ziggyproductions05
imagine how many people there really is that are sick. im sure BP or any other source is reporting the number. Or think of how many are getting sick nd rashes and arent relating it to the ocean they swam in yet! It baffles me why anyone would go in the ocean a week after the spill let alone a month or two months...