Of the thousands of workers who rushed to clean up the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, many now report severe health problems, including cancer, that they attribute to their chemical exposure, the Guardian reports.
In 2010, an oil rig operated by BP exploded, releasing millions of gallons of oil to wash up on Louisiana’s shores. More than 33,000 workers came to clean up the spill, scooping up oil on beaches, sailing out to trap the layer floating on the water, and rounding up oil-covered animals and birds.
In addition to oil, workers were exposed to Corexit, a chemical BP used to break up large slicks, the Guardian reports. Corexit has been shown to cause severe lung damage, and exposure to oil spills is linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological issues, and long-term respiratory problems.
But according to the Guardian, which reviewed some of BP’s safety briefing materials that were recently released, workers were not informed about any danger from the exposure. Multiple workers testified that they received no safety gear.
Meanwhile, BP had been advised by multiple government agencies that it should monitor the toxins in workers’ blood, the Guardian reveals. BP chose not to perform that type of testing and instead monitored the levels of toxins in the air, a less accurate and thorough method. Internal emails show that this testing was performed to improve BP’s image after the spill and protect against future lawsuits.
Now thousands of those lawsuits are emerging, and BP has been ruthless in squashing every one, the Guardian reports.
According to the Guardian, the victims received an early settlement of just a few thousand dollars soon after the spill. Due to the terms of that settlement, the victims are not allowed to file a class-action lawsuit together for the long-term health effects and instead must sue individually. These individual suits are costly for the victims, and all but one have been dismissed thanks to BP’s aggressive legal defense.
One commenter on Reddit claims to be a Louisiana resident familiar with the case. They said, “Everyone here knew what was happening and what BP was doing. We called the politicians, we went to those bulls*** town halls that BP organized. We raised our voices but no one in power cares.”
Another commenter responded, “This is so extremely sad.”
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