New report from NASA finds that nearly 50 percent of the population along the Gulf Coast is experiencing sickness indicative of chemical poisoning related to the BP oil spill
March 12, 2011 – 9:43 am
Translation by Autumnson Blog
Along the Gulf Coast, the marketing blitz for spring break is rolling out as the oil from the BP blowout 11 months ago continues to roll in along with increasing numbers of dead infant dolphins, in numbers completely without precedent. The beaches remain polluted with toxic oil and dispersant even as local politicians and government officials insist everything is fine and the oil miraculously gone. Thousands of pounds are collected each day from the few areas that remain under scrutiny, all of those being in highly visible resort areas. In one zone on Ft. Morgan beach in Alabama, a record 17,000 lbs was collected in one day after a winter storm rolled through. Along the beaches of Alabama in areas not frequented by media or guests, dead infant dolphins are left uncollected in the sand. Current plans by mayors of resort communities along the Gulf Coast will have thousands of vacationers, including at-risk populations, once again making sandcastles and sunbathing on toxic, polluted beaches.
BP continues to shut down the few cleanup efforts still underway with the approval of the federal government. At the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force meeting in New Orleans recently, scientists, NGO’s, and concerned citizens demanded to know how the ecosystem could be restored when the basic cleanup of the oil has been made impossible by any known technology after the dispersant sank it to the ocean floor. Health concerns remained at the forefront of dialogue as a new report by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade finds that nearly 50 percent of the population along the Gulf Coast is experiencing sickness indicative of chemical poisoning related to the BP oil spill. The CDC assertions in a brochure distributed at the meeting that the levels of chemical exposure related to the spill are not a cause for concern was ridiculed and an embarrassment to many of the officials present.
Orange Beach, Alabama, March 3, 2011
Government data collected during the oil spill last summer, which is now being released by one of the scientists on the NASA team, strengthens claims that oil and dispersant was brought onshore in rain during the spill. The Chief Mission Coordinating Scientist on the NASA remote sensing mission to the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico was Ira Leifer, Ph.D from University of California Santa Barbara. Dr. Leifer has been working with natural oil spills and natural methane bubble flows for the last decade. He is in the process of releasing some of the government data collected during the spill; the vast majority of this data has been suppressed and is not available to scientists, the media, or the general public. The data was collected on boats at the sea surface, in airplanes over the Gulf, and by satellite.
The data being released, which was collected by the NASA missions to the Gulf, shows that the toxic compounds released from the BP spill became airborne, and significant quantities were brought onshore by precipitation, thereby exposing coastal populations to chemical poisoning. This represents something new and unique not observed in previous oil spills. It helps explain why there were numerous reports by people living along the Gulf Coast that it was raining oil and dispersant during the summer months.
Ira Leifer at work/Photo by George Foulsham
After spending some time together in New Orleans I spoke to Ira Leifer at length in Mexico City.
JC: How was the data you are referring to collected, and based on that data, what degree of concentration did you find of what you would consider toxic compounds?
JC: What about the population along the coast in the areas where there have been so many reports of people complaining of health problems, specifically Southern Louisiana, Mississippi, the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area of Alabama? Do you think the data you collected has a direct correlation to those populations and what they were inhaling?
IL: People in the Gulf of Mexico were not warned that the air was going to be bad and they had clean air in much of the area right before the spill. It is a very different kind of situation than people who chose to go and try to make money in Mexico City. A lot of people in the Gulf live there because they enjoy the Gulf and they didn’t want to move Los Angeles or New York City or the big American polluted environments — they chose to stay where the environment is pretty clean.
In terms of the health implications for coastal communities I think there are two things. I have classified there being three different approaches by which atmospheric phenomenon related to the oil spill can cause health effects. One is the volatiles just breathing the stuff a long way from the incident site. A second one is aerosol, so when oil comes up on the beaches as the wave breaks there is aerosol generated in the air, and that can be breathed by people. The last one which we discovered is the rain. I will add a fourth one which is dispersants. Clearly, spraying dispersants near populated areas is a bad idea. If dispersants are aerosolized that is a bad thing as well. I do not have data on the dispersants so I will speak to what I do know. With regards to the volatiles there are two things the main thing is that volatiles can go a long way on the wind.
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