BP attempted to deny and conceal links of its oil spill to illnesses, after initial reports of oil cleanup workers who were getting sick due to extended exposure to oil and dispersants. Fishermen have complained of “severe headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing” after working to clean up the spill, and one said BP did not provide protective equipment. But BP CEO Tony Hayward brushed off illness concerns, suggesting “food poisoning” might have been the culprit. Now, McClatchy reports on a wide disparity in government and BP records on illness complaints:
Although Louisiana state records indicate that at least 74 oil spill workers have complained of becoming sick after exposure to pollutants, BP’s own official recordkeeping notes just two such incidents.
BP reported a wide range of worker injuries in the period from April 22 to June 10 , from the minor — a sprained ankle, a pinched finger and a cat bite — to the more serious — three instances of workers being struck by lightning and one worker who lost part of a finger.
The gap between the state data and BP’s… raises questions about whether the federal government can rely on BP to determine whether conditions remain safe for the more than 27,000 workers now engaged in cleaning up the worst oil spill in the nation’s history.
As other workers have reported flu-like symptoms caused by Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance, which causes patients to “lose tolerance to household products, medication, or even food after being exposed to chemicals like burning oil, toxic fumes, or dispersants from the spill.” In fact, BP accounts for “97 percent of ‘egregious willful’ violations given by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”