The combination of millions of gallons of oil and dispersants has made large areas of the Gulf toxic and dangerous, marine toxicologist Ricki Ott saying if she lived there with children she’d leave – based on her firsthand experience after the 1989 Prince William Sound, Alaska Exxon Valdez disaster and subsequent research, documented in her books titled, “Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill” and “Not One Drop – Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.”
Ongoing today, the legacy includes criminal negligence, bankruptcies, destroyed lives and livelihoods, domestic violence, severe anxiety, trauma, PTSD, drug and alcohol abuse, serious illnesses, suicides, massive loss of plant and wildlife, and vast ecological destruction from the 30 million or more gallons spilled, the State of Alaska’s conservative estimate, not Exxon’s 11 million figure, its lowball claim to hide the disaster’s magnitude and minimize its liability.
The Gulf catastrophe is infinitely greater, estimates up to three or more Exxon Valdez incidents (using Exxon’s figure) a week until capped. Yet some experts think another seabed hole (a few miles from the Macondo well) is emitting 100,000 or more barrels daily, greatly compounding the growing disaster, added to more by numerous small leaks, five or more alone in BP’s Macondo well – the “well from hell,” according to some.
Geologist Chris Landau is one, telling Petroleum World that “BP has drilled into a deep-core oil volcano that cannot be stopped, regardless of the horizontal drills the company claims will stop the oil plume in August.”
Ocean Energy Institute Founder Matthew Simmons is another, telling Bloomberg we’ve killed the Gulf of Mexico – its $2.2 trillion economy by depleting oxygen, decimating aquatic life and poisoning the food chain. We’ve also created a public health crisis, problems showing up first in cleanup workers experiencing dizziness, fainting, nausea, nosebleeds, vomiting, coughing, headaches, stomach upset, and difficulty breathing, compounded by heat, fatigue, hydrocarbon smell, and combined toxicity of oil and dispersants.
Besides other toxins, crude oil contains benzene, in even small amounts associated with leukemia, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, other serious blood and immune system diseases, ventricular fibrillation, congestive gastritis, toxic gastritis, pyloric stenosis, myalgia, kidney damage, skin irritation and burns, swelling and edema, vascular congestion in the brain, and lethal central nervous system depression among others, depending on length and degree of exposure.
The EPA’s safe level is 4 parts per billion (ppb), yet Gulf levels reach or top 3,000, smelled hundreds of miles away, meaning residents inhaling fumes are ingesting dangerous toxins, raising their risk for serious future health problems, some potentially lethal.
Long-term exposure to benzene, ethylbenzene, xylene, toluene and other solvents may cause infertility, low-birth weight babies, miscarriages, decreased cognitive function, psychomotor coordination problems, weakened immunity, and increased risk of depression, insomnia, certain cancers, and other diseases.
In their book Generations at Risk, Ted Schettler, Gina Solomon, Maria Valenti and Annette Huddle reviewed the physical properties of solvents, enabling humans to ingest them saying:
“They evaporate in air at room temperature and are therefore easily inhaled; they penetrate the skin easily; and they cross the placenta, sometimes accumulating at higher doses in the fetus. In addition, many solvents (like benzene) enter breast fat and are found in breast milk, sometimes at higher concentrations than in maternal blood.”
“Solvents contaminating drinking water enter the body through skin absorption and inhalation in the shower, as well as through drinking water. In fact, the total exposure from taking a ten minute shower in contaminated water is greater than….drinking two quarts of the same water. Solvents are generally short-lived in the human body, lingering for no more than several days.” When longer-term, however, much greater harm results.
Exposure can cause “a range of ill effects, including damage to the skin, liver, central nervous system, lungs, and kidneys. Certain solvents can inhibit blood cell production.” Many are carcinogenic. Glycol ethers can cause birth defects, testicular damage, infertility, and failed pregnancies. Exposed men experience low sperm counts, women reproductive problems, everyone potential serious future health problems.
After the 2002 Galicia, Spain Prestige oil spill and 2007 South Korean Hebei Spirit one, fishermen and cleanup workers suffered from respiratory and central nervous system problems, even genetic damage. After the Exxon Valdez disaster, BP’s then medical director, Dr. Robert Rigg warned:
“It is a known fact that neurological changes (brain damage), skin disorders, (including cancer), liver and kidney damage, cancer of the other organs, and medical complications – secondary to exposure to working unprotected (or inadequately protected) – can and will occur (in) workers exposed to crude oil and other petrochemical by-products.” Short-term symptoms and complaints may be early warnings of serious long-term harm.
Public health specialists Ellen-Marie Whelan and Lesley Russell from the Center for American Progress said:
“We know that Exxon Valdez cleanup workers faced average oil mist exposure that was twelve times higher than government-approved limits, and those who washed the beaches with hot water experienced a maximum exposure 400 times higher than these limits. Many of those workers suffered subsequent health problems, and in 1989, 1,811 workers filed compensation claims, primarily for respiratory system damage, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.” Today, we face “what some are calling the worst-ever ecological disaster without an appropriate public health response in place.”
Whelan and Russell also cited the dangers of “controlled burns,” saying “When we aerosolize those oil droplets, they can be breathed in, which can be very damaging to the lungs, and can” irritate the eyes, throat, and cause nausea and vomiting. Early May EPA air tests in the greater Venice, LA area showed toxin levels far exceeding safe standards onshore – 100 – 1,000-fold for volatile organic carbons (VOC), including hydrogen sulfide, and other emitted chemicals.
According to Ott and other experts, if air, land and water toxicity exceeds safe levels, Washington is obligated to evacuate residents, as it would ahead of a dangerous hurricane. “The current situation is a disaster in the making,” so far covered up and unaddressed.
Chemical Dispersants – Compounding the Disaster
According to the EPA:
“Dispersants have not been used extensively in the United States because of possible long term environment effects, difficulties with timely and effective application, disagreement among scientists and research date about their environmental effects, effectiveness, and toxicity concerns.”
Extensive use of them (two million or more gallons so far) is a giant uncontrolled human/wildlife/ecological experiment, especially combined with oil.
Oil is toxic at 11 parts per million (ppm) while Corexit 9500 at only 2.61 ppm, and Corexit 9527 even less, the EPA calling it an acute health hazard. Its main ingredient, 2-butoxyethanol, is a dangerous neurotoxin pesticide known to cause cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects, genetic mutations, blood disorders, and damage to kidneys, liver and central nervous system.
It’s not known if Corexit 9500 contains 2-butoxyethanol. Science Corps.org lists it among its toxic ingredients. For competitive reasons, Nalco, its producer, keeps its formula secret, but what’s disclosed is extremely toxic, including dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS), causing severe eye and skin irritation as well as diarrhea, intestinal bloating, cramps and nausea when ingested, including by inhaling fumes. It’s also cytotoxic, especially to liver cells.
Corexit also contain arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, cyanide, and other heavy metals. Dispersing oil with it increases toxicity 11-fold, suggesting a calamitous looming public health disaster, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of area residents and in other states if toxins spread by rains. More on that below. Continue reading »
Matt Simmons is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, so you really cannot trust him for a planck second.
Matt Simmons recommends to use a nuclear weapon to seal the blowout.
And what will happen if all the methane in the Gulf explodes???
“The health problems are so serious,” Simmons said. “When you inhale methane you just die.”
Added: 19. July 2010
Added: 19. July 2010
Oil industry insider Matt Simmons blew the whistle on the made-for-TV
capping of the so-called oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday, July
15, during an interview on KPFK radio, the NPR station in Los Angeles.
Simmons, former energy adviser to the second President Bush, explained
that according to his reading of the data from NOAA, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, capping of the so-called riser
and the subsequent announcement by U.S. President Obama was “the
biggest con job we’ve ever seen.”
Simmons, creator of an investment bank catering to oil companies, told
radio host Ian Masters that the real problem continuing to gush oil
into the Gulf was not the 6-inch “riser” that apparently has been
capped amid much TV hoopla, but that an open hole or cauldron perhaps
up to 10 miles distant from where British Petroleum’s cameras are
focused which continues to spew 120,000 BARRELS per day, and that BP’s
much publicized effort to drill relief wells in what the company says
is an effort to stop the flow of oil is nothing but a cynical
“The dimensions of this lie are beyond belief,” said Simmons,
explaining that the idea of a relief well is “tricky at best,” since
trying to hit a pipe of less than a foot in diameter 35,000 feet below
the surface of the Gulf may be entirely futile because the casing of
the original pipe is not even there, having blown away at some point.
But Simmons noted that both BP and Obama continue to deny that this
open hole, or cauldron, even exists, even though Simmons and others
insist the NOAA data from satellites prove by speed of flow and depth
of light that the amount of oil that has been flowing through the
on-camera riser could not possibly account for the amount of oil that
has spilled into the Gulf.
“The riser is totally irrelevant,” Simmons stressed, adding “and
there’s no way to cap the open hole.” He explained that BP continues
to deny the open hole exists and theorizes the continuing flow of oil
into the Gulf is really just the residue from what has already been
spilled during the first 90 days of the disaster.
“There is denial that there’s even a problem,” Simmons said. “In about
a month or two people will realize that this actually was the biggest
con job we’ve ever seen.”
Are you sure that you want to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? In a previous article we documented a number of the health dangers from this oil spill that many scientists are warning us of, and now it has been reported on CNN that the vast majority of those who worked to clean up the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska are now dead. Yes, you read that correctly. Almost all of them are dead.
In fact, the expert that CNN had on said that the life expectancy for those who worked to clean up the Exxon Valdez oil spill is only about 51 years. Considering the fact that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now many times worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster, are you sure you want to volunteer to be on a cleanup crew down there? After all, the American Dream is not to make big bucks for a few months helping BP clean up their mess and then drop dead 20 or 30 years early.
This news clip from CNN is absolutely stunning. If this is even close to true, then why would anyone want to be involved in helping to clean up this oil?….
The truth is that what we have out in the Gulf of Mexico is a “toxic soup” of oil, methane, benzene, hydrogen sulfide, other toxic gases and very poisonous chemical dispersants such as Corexit 9500.
Breathing all of this stuff is not good for your health, but the reality is that the true health toll of this oil spill is not going to be known for decades.
However, the early reports are not encouraging….
*Already, a large number of workers cleaning up the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico report that they are suffering from flu-like symptoms.
*According to another new report, exposure to the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in 162 cases of illnesses reported to the Louisiana state health department.
*In addition, according to one local Pensacola news source, “400 people have sought medical care for upper or lower respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, and eye irritation after trips to Escambia County beaches.”
CHICAGO (Reuters) – As much as 1 million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some regions near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, enough to potentially deplete oxygen and create a dead zone, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.
Texas A&M University oceanography professor John Kessler, just back from a 10-day research expedition near the BP Plc oil spill in the gulf, says methane gas levels in some areas are “astonishingly high.”
Kessler’s crew took measurements of both surface and deep water within a 5-mile (8 kilometer) radius of BP’s broken wellhead.
“There is an incredible amount of methane in there,” Kessler told reporters in a telephone briefing.
In some areas, the crew of 12 scientists found concentrations that were 100,000 times higher than normal.
“We saw them approach a million times above background concentrations” in some areas, Kessler said.
The scientists were looking for signs that the methane gas had depleted levels of oxygen dissolved in the water needed to sustain marine life.
“At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters. At other places, we saw no depletion of oxygen in the waters. We need to determine why that is,” he told the briefing. Continue reading »
ScienceDaily (Dec. 18, 2008) – A team led by International Arctic Research Center scientist Igor Semiletov has found data to suggest that the carbon pool beneath the Arctic Ocean is leaking.
The results of more than 1,000 measurements of dissolved methane in the surface water from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf this summer as part of the International Siberian Shelf Study show an increased level of methane in the area. Geophysical measurements showed methane bubbles coming out of chimneys on the seafloor.
“The concentrations of the methane were the highest ever measured in the summertime in the Arctic Ocean,” Semiletov said. “We have found methane bubble clouds above the gas-charged sediment and above the chimneys going through the sediment.”