Dahr Jamail reports for Al Jazeera:
Injected with at least 4.9 million barrels of oil during the BP oil disaster of last summer, the Gulf has suffered the largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Compounding the problem, BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic dispersants, which according to chemist Bob Naman, create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. And dispersed, weathered oil continues to flow ashore daily.
Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil.
According to Naman, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from this toxic mix are making people sick. PAHs contain compounds that have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.
Fisherman across the four states most heavily affected by the oil disaster - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida - have reported seeing BP spray dispersants from aircraft and boats offshore.
“The dispersants are being added to the water and are causing chemical compounds to become water soluble, which is then given off into the air, so it is coming down as rain, in addition to being in the water and beaches of these areas of the Gulf,” Naman added.
“I’m scared of what I’m finding. These cyclic compounds intermingle with the Corexit [dispersants] and generate other cyclic compounds that aren’t good. Many have double bonds, and many are on the EPA’s danger list. This is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe.”
Commercial fisherman Donny Matsler also lives in Alabama.
“I was with my friend Albert, and we were both slammed with exposure,” Matsler explained of his experience on August 5, referring to toxic chemicals he inhaled that he believes are associated with BP’s dispersants. “We both saw the clumps of white bubbles on the surface that we know come from the dispersed oil.”
“I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also,” Matsler, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Dauphin Island, said. “I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhea unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
He was also suffering from skin rashes, nausea, and a sore throat.
At roughly the same time Matsler was exposed, local television station WKRG News 5 took a water sample from his area to test for dispersants. The sample literally exploded when it was mixed with an organic solvent separating the oil from the water.
Naman, the chemist who analyzed the sample, said: “We think that it most likely happened due to the presence of either methanol or methane gas or the presence of the dispersant Corexit.”
“I’m still feeling terrible,” Matsler told Al Jazeera recently. “I’m about to go to the doctor again right now. I’m short of breath, the diarrhea has been real bad, I still have discoloration in my urine, and the day before yesterday, I was coughing up white foam with brown spots in it.”
As for Matsler’s physical reaction to his exposure, Hugh Kaufman, an EPA whistleblower and analyst, has reported this of the effects of the toxic dispersants:
“We have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do…”
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