April 17, 2020

Government Accountability Project Publishes Report on the Continuing Health Consequences of BP Spill

Year-Long Whistleblower Investigation Reveals Long-Lasting Medical Trauma

WASHINGTON – Today, Government Accountability Project released the results of a year-long investigation into ongoing medical damage from Corexit, the chemical dispersant that was used to clean up the oil spill. Unfortunately, the chemical merely fused with the oil and sank it to the Gulf floor in a compound over 50 times more toxic than the oil itself. Clean-up workers, fishermen, and citizens exposed to the chemical cannot wake up from the medical nightmare it has caused. Based on lasting impacts to date, they may never recover.

Ten Years After Deepwater Horizon” is the third Government Accountability Project investigative report following reports in 2013 and 2015. The current investigation continues our effort to build a “People’s Record” about Corexit’s public health threat, this time based on statements and reports of interview from 20 witnesses including whistleblowers and community and medical leaders. The People’s Record also updates an official record of inaction. Constructive responses by public and private authorities to help the victims and prevent recurrence are dead in the water, and BP has openly declared that it will keep using Corexit until the government stops it.

The passivity and arrogance of corporate and government actors is in sharp contrast with reality for Gulf residents and workers. Whistleblowers reported that the “Gulf Syndrome” has made community deaths connected with the cleanup a new norm. Cancer has become commonplace to those exposed. Skin rashes have been so severe that victims call them “suicide itches.” Commonly reported conditions include respiratory loss, seizures, excessive pain and untreatable migraines, cranial pressure, and brain holes revealed by MRI examination. Extreme sensitivity to chemicals and smells makes it difficult or impossible to eat or use common items like detergent; tongue tumors, along with throat and stomach pain make it difficult to eat solids, and impossible to drink carbonated liquids. Those exposed reported persistent diarrhea for a decade, steady loss of vision and constantly burning red eyes, fatigue and debilitating loss of stamina, and sexual dysfunction. Witnesses reported that their symptoms dissipated dramatically after leaving the Gulf area, but would return promptly once they returned.

Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine commented,

“This investigation was necessary because government and professional authorities have deserted Corexit’s victims. Proposed Obama-era regulations to control Corexit are gathering dust with President Trump. This People’s Record documents the consequences of the spill for the many whose suffering from exposure to Corexit and oil-Corexit mixtures is a permanent and often tragic reality.”

Environmental Counsel & Investigator Adam Arnold added,

“Speaking with individuals who are still suffering after ten years – not only physically, but with the frustration of seeing a failed response forgotten or, worse still, claimed as a success – brings into focus the real threat posed by relying on dispersants and an outdated response plan. The thought of expanding offshore drilling under these conditions should worry not only coastal residents, but everyone who values human and environmental health.”

Contact: Andrew Harman
Phone: (202) 457-0034 ext. 156


Government Accountability Project

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.