Dauphin Island, Alabama - BP says it is no longer using toxic dispersants to break up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Gulf Coast residents claim otherwise, and say they have the sicknesses to prove it.
On Aug. 5, Donny Mastler, a commercial fisherman who also works on boats, was at the Dauphin Island Marina.
"I was with my friend Albert, and we were both slammed with exposure," Mastler, told IPS, referring to toxic chemicals he inhaled that he believes are associated with BP's Corexit dispersants. "We both saw the clumps of white bubbles on the surface that we know come from the dispersed oil."
Both of their eyes were watering and their throats were burning, so Albert went to sit in his air-conditioned truck, while Mastler headed home.
"I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also," Mastler said. "I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhea unlike anything I've ever experienced."
BP has been using two oil dispersants, Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527, both of which are banned in Britain. More than 1.9 million gallons of dispersant has been used to date on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
Pathways of exposure are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, dizziness, chest pains and tightness, irritation of eyes, nose, throat and lungs, difficulty breathing, respiratory system damage, skin irrigation and sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic damage and mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage, among several others.
Not along ago, at the same marina, WKRG News 5 took a water sample to test for dispersants. The sample literally exploded when it was mixed with an organic solvent separating the oil from the water.
Bob Naman, the chemist who analysed the sample, told the station, "We think that it most likely happened due to the presence of either methanol or methane gas or the presence of the dispersant Corexit."
As for Mastler'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…And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around 50. It's very dangerous, and it's an… economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public."