There are simply no safe levels of exposure to toxins. Part 4 EXXON Valdez Crude OIL and Corexit


This should sound familiar by now. 20 years ago there was an oil spill in Alaska. Clean-up Workers complained of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, rashes, flu like symptoms, vomiting. Today there is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf Clean-up Workers are complaining of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, rashes, flu like symptoms, vomiting. And still nobody knows why?

“My name is Merle Savage; a female general foreman during the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) beach cleanup in 1989, which turned into 21 years of extensive health deterioration for me, and many other workers. Dr. Riki Ott visited me in 2007 to explain about the toxic spraying on the beaches. She also informed me that Exxon’s medical records and the reports that surfaced in litigation by sick workers in 1994, had been sealed from the public, making it impossible to hold Exxon responsible for their actions.”

Exxon developed the toxic spraying; OSHA, the Coast Guard, and the state of Alaska authorized the procedure; VECO and other Exxon contractors implemented it. Beach crews breathed in crude oil that splashed off the rocks and into the air — the toxic exposure turned into chronic breathing conditions and central nervous system problems, along with other massive health issues. Some of the illnesses include neurological impairment, chronic respiratory disease, leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, liver damage, and blood disease.

My web site is devoted to searching for EVOS cleanup workers who were exposed to the toxic spraying, and are suffering from the same illnesses that I have. Our summer employment turned into a death sentence for many — and a life of unending medical conditions for the rest of us – Exxon’s Collateral Damaged.

Please note the same illnesses as World Trade Center Rescue workers.
Please note “Beach crews breathed in crude oil that splashed off the rocks and into the air”
Please note a dispersant was used in the clean up.

“The first cleanup response was through the use of a dispersant, a surfactant and solvent mixture. A private company applied dispersant on March 24 with a helicopter and dispersant bucket. Because there was not enough wave action to mix the dispersant with the oil in the water, the use of the dispersant was discontinued. One trial explosion was also conducted “during the early stages of the spill to burn the oil”, in a region of the spill isolated from the rest by another explosion. The test was relatively successful, reducing 113,400 litres of oil to 1,134 litres of removable residue, but because of unfavorable weather no additional burning was attempted. Mechanical cleanup was started shortly afterwards using booms and skimmers, but the skimmers were not readily available during the first 24 hours following the spill, and thick oil and kelp tended to clog the equipment.”

Volume of Crude Oil – 750,000 barrels (32,000,000 USgal)

Area – 11,000 sq mi (28,000 km2)

Coastline impacted – 1,300 mi (2,100 km)

For info on Valdez and the hazards please see Again The EPAs own warnings include the words “Toxic when released in burning crude oil” But deemed it safe!! No studies were and to this day have been done on dispersants.

ANCHORAGE — You’d think that more than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists would know what, if any, long-term health dangers face the thousands of workers needed to clean up the Gulf of Mexico spill. You’d be wrong.

“We don’t know a damn thing,” said Anchorage lawyer Michael Schneider, whose firm talked with dozens of Alaska cleanup workers following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in preparation for a class-action lawsuit that never came.

In New Orleans last week, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin delivered a similar, if more subtle, message to a gathering of health experts meeting to talk about how to protect people working on the massive BP oil spill still gushing in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Current scientific literature is inconclusive with regard to the potential hazards resulting from the spill,” Benjamin said. “Some scientists predict little or no toxic effect . . . while other scientists express serious concerns about the potential short-term and long-term impacts the exposure to oil and dispersants could have on the health of responders and our communities.”

That lack of published, peer-reviewed study of the Exxon Valdez cleanup workers has made protecting the growing number workers in the Gulf of Mexico all the more difficult and has Alaska watchdogs warning that BP and government regulators are repeating mistakes that made people sick a generation ago.

“We don’t have the good answers that we could have had from the Exxon Valdez to either know that there are problems or to reassure people that there were not,” said Mark Catlin, an industrial hygienist who visited the cleanup in 1989 and says some Gulf workers aren’t receiving enough training to protect themselves.

Critics have questioned whether the Obama administration has left too many decisions about the health and safety of the oil spill workers to BP’s discretion as a growing number of workers complain about exposure to toxins.

Earlier this month, McClatchy reported that records released by the state of Louisiana showed that BP wasn’t recording most worker complaints of illness after exposure to oil. While Louisiana records described least 74 oil spill workers complaining of becoming sick, BP’s own official recordkeeping noted just two such incidents. That followed a McClatchy story that said BP’s plan to protect workers, which the Coast Guard approved on May 25, exposes them to higher levels of toxic chemicals than generally accepted practices permit. The plan also doesn’t require BP to give workers respirators, to evacuate them from danger zones, or to take other precautions until conditions are more dangerous. BP’s plan also fails to address the health impacts of more than 1 million gallons of dispersants used so far in the cleanup.

Catlin was part of a Laborers International Union team of specialists who shortly after the Exxon Valdez spill warned Alaska’s state labor department that spill workers could face lingering kidney and nervous system damage from prolonged exposure to oil and called for long-term monitoring of worker health. No formal follow-up study apparently was ever undertaken, however, or if it was, its results weren’t published, three of the original reports’ authors said. In the years since, Alaska workers have reported ailments ranging from flu-like symptoms to chemical sensitivity to neurological damage.

Exxon has consistently maintained that there’s no evidence spill workers experienced any adverse health effects as a result of the cleanup. Spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman said she isn’t aware of any long-term study the company conducted on its own. “The challenge is largely due to the fact that cleanup workers tended to be transient, temporary workers, which made any medical follow-up difficult,” she said.

Sandee Elvsaas, who was director of the spill response operations for oil services firm Veco Corp. in the village of Seldovia, disputes that. She said she still has names of workers she sent out to spray beaches and boats fouled by the spill and who got sick. “The people from the village are still here. . . . We’re here. They just haven’t come to ask,” Elvsaas said. “Terrible rashes and headaches and vomiting. They were nauseated. These were not the same people I sent out,” she said.

A 1993 study conducted on the mental health fallout of the spill on workers and communities and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry concluded that people living in Alaska communities touched by the spill were more likely to suffer generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. No similar studies have been published on physical ailments, however. Fred Blosser, a spokesman for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said NIOSH hasn’t done any research on long-term health effects on Exxon Valdez workers.

Riki Ott, a biologist, activist and fisher from Cordova, Alaska, who’s written two books about the Exxon Valdez spill, said the link between respiratory problems and exposure to oil and chemicals used in the cleanup was explored in an unpublished 2003 pilot study by a Yale graduate student. The phone survey of 169 workers concluded that those who performed jobs with high oil exposure or exposure to oil mists, aerosol and fumes were more likely to report symptoms of chronic airway disease than workers with less exposure. Based on the findings, Ott has told Congress that roughly 3,000 former cleanup workers are likely suffering spill-related illnesses. Studies of other oil spills report similar trends.

A report on the 2002 oil tanker Prestige spill in Spain concluded “participation in cleanup work of oil spills may result in prolonged respiratory symptoms that last one to two years after exposure,” according to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Exxon’s own internal medical reports, which surfaced in court documents years after the spill, showed an unspecified number of spill workers made thousands of clinic visits for upper respiratory illnesses. Exxon later moved to seal the records. NIOSH had the legal authority to subpoena the records but never did so.

Eula Bingham, an assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health during the Carter administration, was part of the union team that visited the cleanup site in 1989. Bingham, now a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, said she worries about the apparent lack of a plan to protect volunteers from toxic exposure in the gulf.

“I think there are community people going out and scooping up the tar balls and doing some work that probably will never get paid by anybody,” she said. “Who is looking after them? Who is measuring how much exposure they have to these toxic chemicals?”

One thing regulators learned from the Exxon Valdez spill and health concerns raised after the World Trade Center cleanup is the need for a database of workers whose health can be tracked in the future, said Blosser, the NIOSH spokesman. “You need basically a way of knowing who was working at the site and information for contacting those workers over time,” he said.

When BP chief executive Tony Hayward appeared before Congress on June 17, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., pressed Hayward on what he called BP’s failure to provide a roster of spill workers despite multiple requests. “The equivocation in your answer is something that is not reassuring to those workers who potentially have been exposed to these chemicals in ways that can impact on their health,” Markey said, according to a transcript.

Blosser said BP provided the worker information last week. Basic worker health information could also play a role in future court cases against BP.

About 50 lawsuits were filed against Exxon over the Valdez spill, said Bergman, the company spokeswoman. She said she didn’t know how many were settled out of court, though a separate case involving insurance companies revealed one worker was paid $2 million.

Schneider, the Anchorage lawyer, said his firm interviewed dozens of workers after the spill. Erin Brockovich — the environmental activist portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 biopic — had gotten involved. There was talk of a class-action lawsuit.

“There wasn’t a class of participants that stood up. Just folks who had been around the project and the process — many of whom had claims that they had became ill and stayed ill after working on the oil spill,” Schneider said. Most complained of respiratory problems, he said. Ultimately, the lack of independent proof, including a proper study of workers’ health that could show the employees got sick directly because of the spill, scuttled the lawsuit. “If you’re the oil industry, you may or may not have this data. Lord knows, you’re not going to want to publish it,” Schneider said.

Today 1,500 gulf workers are complaining of headaches, dizziness, nausea, rashes, flu like symptoms, vomiting –and NO one knows why?

Part Five The Gulf


12 Responses

  1. The EPA, CDC, OSHA and NIOSH have all released
    Warnings on health hazards on toxins in crude oil
    the same toxins in the dispersant being used in
    the gulf.
    Yet…. The Obama administration has ignored the
    Warnings of. Its own agency instead choosing
    to allow BP to issue the “All is safe” and be in
    Charge of the Health of the Gulf workers.

    There is something terribly wrong here.

    • I think they know of the dangers. I think they need the money ,and will do what it takes to take care of their responsibilities.. thats really tough with no funds. I am sure they want their area cleaned up its there home ,and their business. and they are willing to take the chance. But what do I know this was just my opion. I would hope that information was given to all who are cleaning up the oil spill.everyone should of had the information maybe they should of signed a copy also.

      • Believe it or not- they are told the levels are safe- so they do the work thinking they are going to be ok and because they : 1- need the money 2- want to help. What they don’t know is just how sick they are going to get. If you read the whole series – all 6 parts you will find out that – in every case- the workers were told the levels were safe and in every case they got very sick and started dying within a few years after the work ended. ! Read all six parts – the facts are there!

        BettyJean Kling M.S, M. Ed Founder: The Majority United http://www.FreeMeNow.wordpress BTR. The Majority United Radio Mon 10 pm & Wed 9:30 pm Eastern Call-in Number: ( 347 ) 838-8011!/group.php?gid=112870418738402 Free US Now- “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.” – Coral Anika Theill TMU IMAGINE Empowering Women To Unite & Mobilize !

  2. […] the rest of this great post here Comments (0)    Posted in Oil Spill   […]

  3. They say studies are inconclusive BUT.. Here are the warnings…
    “Benzene is a natural part of crude oil, gasoline. (180 million gallons of crude oil has spilled into the gulf)

    Benzene is a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable.

    Benzene evaporates into the air very quickly. Its vapor is heavier than air and may sink into low-lying areas.

    Benzene dissolves only slightly in water and will float on top of water.

    The short term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death, while low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, and death.

    If a person vomits because of swallowing foods or beverages containing benzene, the vomit could be sucked into the lungs and cause breathing problems and coughing.
    (Important as it relates to Ground Zero)

    Direct exposure of the eyes, skin, or lungs to benzene can cause tissue injury and irritation.

    The major effects of benzene are manifested via chronic (long-term) exposure through the blood. Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Benzene causes leukemia and is associated with other blood cancers and pre-cancers of the blood.
    (Ground Zero and Exxon Valdez)

    The “US Department of Health and Human Services” (DHHS) classifies benzene as a human carcinogen. Long-term exposure to excessive levels of benzene in the air causes leukemia, a potentially fatal cancer of the blood-forming organs, in susceptible individuals. In particular, Acute myeloid leukemia or acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (AML & ANLL) is not disputed to be caused by benzene.

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency has set the maximum permissible level of benzene in drinking water at 0.005 milligrams per liter (0.005 mg/L). The EPA requires that spills or accidental releases into the environment of 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or more of benzene be reported to the EPA.

    The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit of 1 part of benzene per million parts of air (1 ppm) in the workplace during an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek. The short term exposure limit for airborne benzene is 5 ppm for 15 minutes.
    Compare the symptoms of 911 and Exxon Valdez workers to the warnings and then tell me inconclusive?

    • Everything is inconclusive but they never err on the side of safety for the people do they ? It always errs of the side of the money! On the side of big business such as the oil companies in this case or Big Pharma when we were talking health care. Whatever the government is doing it is never for the benefit of the people it is for the benefit of raising money so they can keep they jobs. They are working for big donators! Our system is broken and only Voter Imposed Term limits can fix it. They will kill us all off – We the people must act neither party is in it for us- We must Wake up NOW!

      BettyJean Kling M.S, M. Ed Founder: The Majority United http://www.FreeMeNow.wordpress BTR. The Majority United Radio Mon 10 pm & Wed 9:30 pm Eastern Call-in Number: ( 347 ) 838-8011!/group.php?gid=112870418738402 Free US Now- “A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.” – Coral Anika Theill TMU IMAGINE Empowering Women To Unite & Mobilize !

  4. Please visit
    Merle Savage site
    She authored the book Silence in the Sound.

    And Riki Ott
    Much info and a petition

  5. great info..i will share you articles to my site.

  6. […] Go here to see the original: There are simply no safe levels of exposure to toxins. Part 4 … […]

  7. Very interesting information….please consider this the next time that you get into your cars! Please pass this on to all of the people you know..

    My car book says to roll down the windows to let out all the hot air before turning on A/C.

    WHY ? Car Air-conditioning –

    No wonder more folks are dying from cancer than ever before. We wonder where this stuff comes from but here is an example that explains a lot of the cancer causing incidents.

    Many people are in their cars first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, 7 days a week.

    Please do NOT turn on A/C as soon as you enter the car. Open the windows after you enter your car and then turn ON the AC after a couple of minutes.

    Here’s why: According to research, the car dashboard, seats, air freshener emit Benzene, a Cancer causing toxin (carcinogen – take time to observe the smell of heated plastic in your car)

    In addition to causing cancer, Benzene poisons your bones, causes anemia and reduces white blood cells. Prolonged exposure will cause Leukemia, increasing the risk of cancer. Can also cause miscarriage.

    Acceptable Benzene level indoors is 50mg per sq.ft.
    A car parked indoors with windows closed will contain 400-800 mg of Benzene.

    If parked outdoors under the sun at a temperature above 60 degrees F, the Benzene level goes up to 2000-4000 mg, 40 times the acceptable level.

    People who get into the car, keeping windows closed will inevitably inhale, in quick succession, excessive amounts of the toxin.

    Benzene is a toxin that affects your kidney and liver.. What’s worse, it is extremely difficult for your body to expel this toxic stuff.

    So friends, please open the windows and door of your car – give time for interior to air out -dispel the deadly stuff – before you enter.

    Thought: ‘When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.’

    This is what says. It is not the air
    conditioning in the car but the Benzene producing agents that cause cancer.

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