This is a very serious problem for quite a few reasons. Obviously cleanup workers becoming sick is a major problem. Besides that, BP’s failure to provide proper safety gear immediately jumps out as does the failure of BP to immediately fund health care clinics for workers. Some are still assuming that BP will do the right thing and provide money but any delay should be viewed with concern. If BP slips out of their responsibility, the GOP will likely view this as yet another “entitlement program” as they are now doing for 9/11 rescue workers. All of this is happening in the context of repeated GOP efforts to protect BP and block their liability.
Instead of barking out orders on the beach for a photo-op that didn’t go as well as he had expected, maybe Tony Hayward could investigate the safety of workers and open the BP checkbook to fund these urgent clinics.
Some fishermen who have been hired by BP to clean up the gulf oil spill say they have become ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and dispersant, prompting a Louisiana lawmaker to call on the federal government to open mobile clinics in rural areas to treat them.
The fishermen report severe headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing. Concerned by the reports, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking the agency’s help providing medical treatment, especially in Plaquemines Parish, a southern region where many fishermen live.
Melancon said he expected BP to fund the clinics, but his spokeswoman said Tuesday the company had not responded to last week’s request for financial assistance.