Global Processing

Mystery Illnesses Plague Louisiana Oil Spill Crews

April 18, 2011
Jamie Simon worked on a barge in the oily waters for six months following the BP spill last year, cooking for the cleanup workers, washing their clothes and tidying up after them, reports the Associated Foreign Press. One year later, the 32-year-old said she still suffers from a range of debilitating health problems, including racing heartbeat, vomiting, dizziness, ear infections, swollen throat, and poor sight in one eye and memory loss. She blames toxic elements in the crude oil and the dispersants sprayed to dissolve it after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. A local doctor, Mike Robichaux, said he has seen as many as 60 patients like Simon in recent weeks, as this small southern town of 10,000 with a mysterious sickness. According to a roster compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a total of 52,000 workers were responding to the Gulf oil spill as of August 2010. The state of Louisiana has reported 415 cases of health problems linked to the spill, with symptoms including sore throats, irritated eyes, respiratory tract infections, headaches and nausea. Asked for comment, BP said in an email that "protection of response workers was a top priority" and that it had conducted "extensive monitoring of response workers" in coordination with several government agencies. "Illness and injury reports were tracked and documented during the response, and the medical data indicate they did not differ appreciably from what would be expected among a workforce of this size under normal circumstances," it added. Any compensation for sick workers would fall under state law, and "BP does not make these determinations, which must be supported by acceptable medical evidence."