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Louisiana Watermen Demand Proper Safety Equipment In Gulf Oil Cleanup

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In the harried cleanup that followed the attack on downtown New York on September 11th, managers of the process famously failed to equip workers with protective gear, damaging countless lives of those who came to the rescue. Environmental advocacy groups and commercial watermen, who are more often joined in combat than alliance, have come together with bloggers and public officials to prevent the pattern from repeating in the Gulf.

Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Waterkeeper Alliance, the United Commercial Fisherman, the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Commercial Fisherman of America, the Nassau Sierra Club in Florida and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, among dozens of others, are calling on BP to properly equip rescue workers mired in the toxic muck that has been spewing from the Gulf floor for nearly three months.

"We cannot let the denial of protective gear that hurt so many 9/11 clean-up workers happen again with the Gulf clean-up workers," reads a statement signed by the groups, organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "President Obama and the federal government must demand that BP allow every clean-up worker who wants to wear respiratory protective equipment to do so -- and ensure that workers get the equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely."

The fishing organizations represent those who have been transformed into cleanup workers by the spill. A scientist with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network recently testified before Congress on the hazards of Gulf cleanup.

The groups are organizing an online petition at BPMakesMeSick.com, where a full list of the coalition, which includes local bloggers and national politicians such as Florida Democratic Reps. Alan Grayson and Kendrick Meek, can be found.

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