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Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Posted: June 18, 2010 03:45 PM

Why We Need Active Surveillance of Gulf Oil Recovery Workers' Health

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Today, when new reports have surfaced about methane being contained in the oil now hitting the Gulf Coast, I called for "active surveillance" of the health of every worker coming into contact with the oil now spreading along the Gulf Coast.

My longtime work in obtaining a health monitoring program for first responders and residents near Ground Zero informed the two letters sent today to the Coast Guard official responsible for the oil spill cleanup, Admiral Thad Allen, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Below are excerpts, along with links to the actual letters. (Below those, I've linked to my floor speeches on the BP spill and oil-recovery workers issues. )

"According to press accounts, a number of cleanup responders on the Gulf Coast... have been reporting vomiting, nausea, headaches and dizziness," Rep. Maloney wrote. "...this sounds eerily to me like the weeks and months following 9/11, when first responders started to report illnesses..."

"...What's more, from press reports from the Gulf Coast, it appears that the federal government is playing a passive role in protecting workers and the public health... Looking back to 9/11, we now know that the federal government should have been medically monitoring workers at the World Trade Center site from early on.

"We can hardly rely on BP to determine the true health effects, and state and local governments, while important in the process, do not have the capacity to coordinate among many agencies and authorities that would be involved.

"I urge the federal government to ensure that every effort is taken to protect workers and the public and to also conduct an aggressive, comprehensive surveillance and medical monitoring system to identify immediate and long-term health effects of the BP spill for the years to come."

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Complete text of Allen letter here. (PDF)
Complete text of the Sebelius letter here.

AP story on methane is here: Gulf Oil Full of Methane, Adding New Concerns

Background.
On May 25th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved, with bipartisan support, Maloney's "James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act" (HR 847), which would fund treatment of people who suffered health problems after working at the site of the collapsed World Trade Center or living or working nearby.

On June 29, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the Senate companion to HR 847, S. 1334, sponsored by Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, it was announced today.

Last week, Rep. Maloney made two statements on the House floor about the BP spill and the health of the recovery workers in the Gulf. A story off the first speech, along with a video of it, is here; a video of the second speech is here.

For complete details and documents on "The James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act" visit my website page on this issue.