Ocean Springs, Mississippi – Not long after BP’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, 2010, Lorrie Williams knew something was very wrong with her health.
She began getting frequent headaches, was experiencing shortness of breath, her eyes were burning, and she was having nightmares.
Williams, her husband Bud Waltman, and their ten-year-old son, Noah, have all tested positive for having chemicals in their blood that are also present in BP’s oil. Her 25-year-old son has been to the emergency room twice for haemorrhaging blood from his nose, and several of their neighbours also have experienced ongoing respiratory problems.
Her two-year-old granddaughter has been sick constantly.
Williams and Waltman, both crab fishers, live less than a kilometre from the Mississippi coast, and blame the illnesses in their family on exposure to chemicals from BP’s oil and the dispersants used to sink it.
“I’m really sick, and I fear that I’m not gonna be here in a year,” Williams told Al Jazeera. “There are days that I can’t get up, and I can’t eat. And I can’t do the things that I used to do, with Bubba, and my grandbaby. And Noah. And then I worry about my mom. And I have nothing to leave them but a crab boat and some crab pots.”
Williams stated that she and her family are not alone.
“There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of other Gulf Coast residents and former oil clean up workers that have also tested positive for having BP’s chemicals in their blood,” she added. “And for many of us, the problem seems to be getting worse with time.”
Volatile organic chemicals
The 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf last year was the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, affecting people living near the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.