With last month’s massive oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico threatening the livelihood of the area’s fishermen, BP said it would “hire as many local residents as possible to clean the beaches and distribute booms through the surrounding marshes and waterways.” But the effort has hit a few bumps with fishermen complaining that “too few people” were being hired and their cleanup contracts contained problems. Now, the Los Angeles Times reports that some fishermen have “become ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and dispersant.” At least one worker says he wasn’t given protective equipment by BP:
Like other cleanup workers, Jackson had attended a training class where he was told not to pick up oil-related waste. But he said he wasn’t provided with protective equipment and wore leather boots and regular clothes on his boat.
“They [BP officials] told us if we ran into oil, it wasn’t supposed to bother us,” Jackson said. “As far as gloves, no, we haven’t been wearing any gloves.”
BP spokesman Graham McEwen told the LA Times that “he was unaware of any health complaints among cleanup workers,” adding that “the fishermen the company is training are not being deployed into areas that require respirators or breathing apparatus. Those who are working for BP laying booms or skimming oil are issued protective coveralls and gloves.” However, George Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fishermen’s Association. in St. Bernard Parish, said that fishermen “complained to a BP representative about illness” at a recent meeting. “BP has the opinion that they are not getting sick,” Barisich said.