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One Year Later, Did Gulf Oil Spill Hurt People?

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 By Les ColemanContact
April 18, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A year after the BP Horizon oil platform exploded, advocates for a clean Gulf of Mexico say it is not a pretty picture below the tranquil waves. For months after the tragic disaster, dead fish, shrimp, crabs, oysters and terrestrial wildlife made the headlines. Now, possible after-effects on humans are rising to the surface.

Dr. Michael Robichaux, who practices medicine in coastal Louisiana, says he is witnessing not just physical disorders.

"The thing that is unheard of before is psychological: We have people with memory loss that is absolutely unbelievable."

According to the latest Oil Spill Commission report to Congress, BP dumped almost 2 million gallons of dispersant in the Gulf. Experts say it did not eliminate the oil, but just broke it down into millions of droplets. Robichaux says more than 300 residents along the Gulf Coast have reported medical problems. BP claims there is no long-term health risk to cause the public to worry.

Robichaux's wife, Brenda Dar Dar Robichaux, is a environmental activist and former chief of the Houma Indian Nation, which depends on fishing for its livelihood. She is giving testimony before a congressional panel this week.

"My father did not harvest his oysters because he is concerned about the safety of the seafood. My family and I don't eat the seafood that is being caught."

Dr. Robichaux says the blood of Gulf residents who were tested showed 35 times more ethyl benzene, a highly toxic oil component. The health risk could be compounded by toxic poisoning from the chemical dispersants sprayed on the oil slicks, he adds. Robichaux claims these risks to humans are being ignored.

"You will find hundreds of articles on fish, shrimp, crabs, what have you, but not a single thing on human effects. Nothing."

As of early April, 153 dead dolphins have washed ashore on the Gulf Coast. Experts call this an alarming clue to the possible long-term effect the spilled oil and petrochemical dispersants could be having on human lives.

More information about the latest oil spill data is available from the Gulf Restoration Network, http://healthygulf.org/ and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, a href="http://leanweb.org/news/latest/dr.-michael-robichaux-speaks-about-growing-health-concerns-in-the-wake-of-bp-oil-disaster.html">http://leanweb.org/news/latest/dr.-michael-robichaux-speaks-about-growing-health-concerns-in-the-wake-of-bp-oil-disaster.html.

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