For BP the worse is not over; it is yet to come. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the British oil company and Congress and the White House are anxious to wash their hands from the slow response and make BP, Transocean and Halliburton, pay.
So far, the spill has hurt everything in and along the Gulf of Mexico, including:
1) Fishermen and their families
2) Sea life: oysters, shrimp, fish, turtles, dolphins…
3) Businesses that pack and sell seafood in four states: Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana.
4) The restaurant and tourism industry
5) Marshes and other delicate ecosystems
6) The health of residents living near the contaminated waters
7) The morale of men and women who work at other oil rigs
SICK OF THE SPILL
Already a number of fishermen and their crews have gotten sick from being exposed to the crude and its fumes. It’s important to note that this unprocessed crude contains poisonous gases and hydrocarbons such a benzene, which is highly toxic and a carcinogen.
The NewsJunkiePost.com was in the Gulf in early May and found that BP had provided very little training to some fishermen who were being sent out to lay boom and to clean the water. This alarmed environmentalists who are concerned that repeated exposure will lead to serious health problems.
NRDC’s Gina Solomon, a scientists and medical doctor, was in Louisiana to monitor the spill. She said that BP had provided some safety gear to fishermen, but not with respirators. The respirators were essential in this type of work considering the dangers of the crude’s fumes.
Alaskan fishermen who helped clean up the Exxon Valdez spill have also been keeping a close eye on the Gulf. Marylee Orr of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network told the NewsJunkiePost.com that some of these fishermen had contacted her with concerns that fishermen in the Gulf could be in danger.
According to Orr, many of the fishermen from the Exxon Valdez spill became really ill after the clean up. There were many cases of Leukemia and other cancers, and serious respiratory illnesses, and Orr says that the same thing may happen in the Gulf.
THE FISH HAVE GONE BAD
The NewsJunkiePost.com interviewed owners of a seafood packing plant in Mississippi. Before the April 20, BP oil rig explosion, the plant — Crystal Seas Seafoods — used to ship about 1 million pounds of oysters and shrimp a month to the US and Canada. But, that has changed.
When the NJP last interviewed Crystal Seas, one of the managers said that half of her workers were going to be laid off due to lack of work. The packing plant employs over 120 people. The other half were probably going to be let go as well if the product didn’t come in.
The government has closed off miles of catching areas where fishermen worked. Without the ability to catch the product, there is no work for the workers at Crystal Seas Seafoods and at other seafood companies along the Gulf.
“We just don’t know what the future holds,” Jennifer Jenkins told the NJP. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, but perhaps close our doors.”
The EPA is monitoring the impacts of toxic chemical dispersant on oyster beds along the gulf. The hundreds of thousands of gallons of dispersant that BP has used to break up the oil has jeopardize the health of all seafood that comes from the Gulf.
It wasn’t until the past week that the EPA ordered BP to use a less toxic dispersant, but that was only after BP had been using the toxic “detergent” for over five weeks.
For businesses like Crystal Seas Seafoods, there is no other alternative but to wait for lab results. The long-term impact of the oil spill however, may hurt businesses and fishermen for years to come. Who knows when oysters, shrimp, fish and other sea life will be safe to eat again. The Centers for Disease Control has also being called in to assess potential poisoning.
BP’S CHECKING ACCOUNT
BP reports that 25,227 damage claims have been opened, from which $29.4 million has been disbursed. BP says that no claims have been denied at this time and that there are more than 432 claims adjusters on the ground. The maximum payout per claim, however, is $5,000.
The British oil giant has assured federal and state authorities that it will make sure everyone who has been hurt by the oil spill gets compensation, but this brings up the question of what sort of “compensation” it is referring to? If the maximum payout is $5,000 per claim, how is that going to help Crystal Seas Seafoods and its workers? When you’re shipping 1 million pounds of seafood a month — $5,000 is a drop in the bucket.
Lawyers have been lining up to represent people who have been affected by the spill. Already the restaurants, hotels, and seafood businesses are banding together to demand compensation. And, the number of lawsuits will continue to climb; there are even lawsuits against the Department of the Interior. Here is a snippet:
On top of the 100 lawsuits already filed against British Petroleum, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron, Inc., the Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior’s Mineral Management Service (MMS). The lawsuit asserts that MMS contributed to the disaster because of lax enforcement of existing regulations.
Indeed, this oil spill has been a nightmare to everyone directly and indirectly involved — from BP itself, to the White House, to the children of fishermen who may not be able to follow in their parents footsteps.
TIME REDUCES SETTLEMENT MONEY
It took ExxonMobil to settle lawsuits from the Exxon Valdez oil spill 20 years! The courts ordered the oil giant to pay $507.5 million in damages last June.
What’s most outrageous is that in 1994, the courts had ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion in damages, but Exxon kept fighting in court. Finally, what the Alaskan fishermen, business, and others affected ended up getting as $507.5 million — most of which would be going to pay legal fees.
Will BP do the same ExxonMobil did? Will time allow the oil giant to slowly but surely chip away from the money that those affected by the spill in the Gulf deserve? With all the finger pointing going on between BP, Halliburton, and Transocean about who is at fault, very little progress will be made.
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Tags: exxon, bp, oil, sue, claim, rig, new, mexico, leak, spill, gulf, crude, barrell, price, obama, whitehouse, alaska, marine,
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