New 'disease': Gulf Spill Syndrome

It was bound to happen — mysterious maladies blamed on exposure to last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Here’s an excerpt of a report from Greenwire:

Andre Gaines was among thousands of unemployed Gulf Coast residents who saw an opportunity in the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year.

Gaines, an athletic 27-year-old from Lucedale, Miss., was quickly hired by a subcontractor for BP PLC, the oil company responsible for the leaking well. But after switching from working on boats to beach cleanup, Gaines said he developed a dry, hacking cough, as did most of his co-workers.

“It was like a circus,” he recalled. “The oil and chemicals were contaminating the bus, our homes, our families.”

The cough, nausea, and a rash on his arm forced him into the hospital. He wasn’t able to see specialists familiar with chemical or oil exposure, he said, and the hospital sent him home. So three days later, he went to another hospital, which admitted him for two weeks. Test results, he said, came back inconclusive.

Now, Gaines, a father of two, said he still has spells of nausea, shortness of breath and headaches. And nobody, he said, seems to care.

“Who do we call? Our government is not talking about this,” he said. “They took advantage of us.”

An unscientific survey of nearly 1,000 Gulf Coast residents by the nonprofit Louisiana Bucket Brigade suggests Gaines is not alone. Nearly half of the surveyed residents said they began suffering coughs, eye irritation, headaches or other symptoms after the BP well began spewing more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf and cleanup crews dispersed nearly 2 million gallons of chemicals to soak up the oil…

“A lot of people feel that they are sick from symptoms that started around the time of the oil spill and haven’t been resolved,” said Gina Solomon of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They don’t have a place to go to report their symptoms, get them assessed and catalogued to feel that their illnesses are being tracked in any way”…

The Bucket Brigade survey of 954 Gulf Coast residents from July to October of last year that was released last month found that nearly half reported an increase in symptoms like coughing, skin and eye irritation as well as headaches. Approximately the same percentage of people also said they believe they were exposed to oil or chemical dispersants.

The residents also reported a sudden onset of the symptoms directly after the spill…

But it remains to be seen how the [cleanup worker] studies will help Betty Doud, 51, a beachcomber from Grand Isle, La.

Doud wasn’t a cleanup worker and said that since the spill she frequently experiences a runny nose and headaches and her eyes burn. She also suffers from chest pains and has “no energy whatsoever.”

“I used to be a hyperactive person,” she said. “Now I can’t get out of bed some days. It’s weird, I’ve never had to deal with this crap before.”

Doud said her symptoms seem to be getting worse. “I’ve been getting confused quite often the past couple months,” she said. “Loss of memory”…

Calling all Gulf Coast grifters…

5 thoughts on “New 'disease': Gulf Spill Syndrome”

  1. Odd how those of us who are organic chemists and have worked with the same types of compounds our whole lives never come down with such illnesses.

  2. It’s too bad the Bucket Brigade survey didn’t call 1908 people in other parts of the country at the same time, trying to find 954 who didn’t pay any attention to the reports on the spill and 954 who watched the reporting on TV. I am curious what the incidence of these symptoms are in these latter two populations.

  3. Forget about the charges. The only relevant question is: Who are the lawyers, and what’s the venue for the civil class action suit? More importantly, how much $$$?

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