Huffpost Green

Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup Workers Getting Sick, Scientist Compares It To Exxon Valdez

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"Deja Vu."

That's how marine toxicologist and Huffington Post blogger Rikki Ott described the similarity of events surrounding the failing health of workers recruited to cleanup the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and their Alaskan counterparts who worked to do the same after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

On Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported that fishermen hired to cleanup BP's mess were coming down with nausea, severe headaches, and breathing problems after working in waters contaminated by the nation's worst oil spill.

BP reportedly told the workers that if they encountered oil, it "wasn't supposed to bother [them]." BP did not distribute gloves, suits, or any other kind of protective gear.

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Following up on the LA Times report, Propublica noted that BP continues to use a dispersant called Corexit, which has been tied to human health problems in the past. BP continues to use Corexit despite a deadline imposed by the EPA directing the oil company to stop using it.

Ott told the Times that the illnesses for cleanup workers were "déjà vu ... What we saw with Exxon Valdez was a parallel track -- sick animals and sick people. Harbor seals were looking like they were drunk and dying ... and autopsies showed brain lesions....What are we exposing these poor fishermen to?"

While sicknesses observed during the current BP oil spill might be most similar to those during the 1989 Exxon Valdex cleanup, other events, like the failed blowout preventers, location, and long-shot solutions appear to be more similar to a different spill, 1979'S Ixtoc 1 oil spill.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported on the striking similarities:

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