Thursday, June 3, 2010

Congressmen demand protective gear for BP disaster response workers

WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. James Oberstar (DFL-MN), chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a senior committee member sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Labor Department demanding that all response and recovery workers responding to the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill be provided proper protective equipment, including respirators. They also demanded that all federal laws governing worker safety and respiratory protection be enforced.

Numerous workers have fallen ill after exposure to the oil, the dispersants, or some combination of the two. In their letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Oberstar and Nadler urged the federal government to ensure that BP is properly protecting the workers, and that BP is not allowed to evade liability or shift the cost to the taxpayers for any potential health effects.

“There are several hazardous substances present in the oil and in the chemical dispersants that are supposed to break up the oil, forming a ‘toxic soup,’" Oberstar said.

"The dispersant that BP has chosen to use, Corexit, is considered one of the most toxic. Last week, several cleanup workers were taken to the hospital complaining of nausea, shortness of breath and other respiratory ailments. It is the federal government’s responsibility to enforce public health and safety laws."

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