Gulf Oil Spill Anniversary: BP Disaster’s Impact On Children Still Debated

Posted: 04/20/2012 10:10 am
Updated: 04/20/2012 10:18 am

Nicole Maurer of Buras, La., displays the contents of her kitchen cupboard: an array of her kids’ medicines.

SOUTH PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. — Julie Creppel raises six children here, steps away from the lapping waves of the Gulf of Mexico. Her modest mobile home, on a narrow peninsula roughly an hour and a half south of New Orleans, puts her about as close as anyone to where, two years ago today, a BP offshore drilling operation went terribly wrong, spewing 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf’s constant saltwater churn.

It was the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, though for much of the nation, it remained a worrying but distant drama. Creppel says that for her and her family, the impacts were very clear and very present. The spill, she says — and the months of efforts to stop it — made them sick.

One son, 2-year-old Wyatt, struggles with constipation and severe skin rashes, Creppel says. Daughters Kylee and Atrea suffer massive headaches almost daily. Kasie, meanwhile, is due for an electrocardiogram for her heart palpitations. Just about everyone in the house relies on a steady supply of Nasonex nasal spray to clear their permanent congestion. Creppel counts 17 prescriptions filled for the family’s ailments just last week.

“It was like a war zone,” Creppel says, recalling the squadrons of military and support planes overhead, the smoky air and the unforgiving chemical stench that characterized the summer of 2010. “When we would walk out on the porch, we couldn’t breathe. Our eyes and throats would burn.”

Creppel’s complaints are not unique, and others nearby who have developed ailments share her suspicions that relentless exposure to burning oil fumes, wafting chemical dispersants and other environmental insults tied to the spill and its aftermath have compromised their health. Complaints range from the general — confusion or persistent exhaustion — to the specific: headaches, stomach pains, chronic, heavy coughs.

Ethan and his nebulizer.

Not everyone is convinced — and for good reason. Monitoring and research so far on the Gulf Coast has yet to make clear scientific links between health concerns and the oil spill, whether exposure to the crude oil, vapors, contaminated seafood or the chemical dispersants used to break the oil apart. A dearth of long-term studies on previous oil spills doesn’t help. Of course, the BP spill also differed from each prior disaster in terms of its magnitude, duration, emission source and an unprecedented use of dispersants and controlled burns.

“We have a piece here and a piece there, but we don’t have the whole picture put together,” says Dr. Robert Geller of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. “The sense I have: Many children have symptoms, but it’s unclear if the symptoms are related to the Gulf oil spill, or in spite of Gulf oil spill.”

The federal government, with several academic research institutions, is actively monitoring the health of a large number of cleanup workers and coastal residents in an effort to fill in some of the missing pieces, but findings are likely still years away.

That comes as cold comfort to residents like Creppel, who are convinced that the proof is plain in the persistent coughs and sniffles of their children.

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2 Responses to Gulf Oil Spill Anniversary: BP Disaster’s Impact On Children Still Debated

  1. ethaos says:

    Jim is on the run in Mexico,,,

    Doubt the photo’s will copy and paste…

    Deep Water Horizon likely destroyed by space based laser
    I noticed this before, but did not post it because I did not realize the lights on the rig failed FIRST and then it exploded. I had this info all along, and since it’s so easy to prove this I will post it while I am busy with other things.

    I need to stress a point here,
    When I studied this disaster before, I discovered that the main electrical system is indeed, BEYOND A DOUBT, below the Helipad, I just did not realize the lights failed first, which puts this story over the top into post-able credibility. I have little doubt now that a laser weapon did indeed destroy this platform, but of course it can’t be proven absolutely.

    However, as an experienced photographer, I am calling the blue beam in the Youtube vids camera lens flare until I see a video where it is visibly obvious it is not;

    Reader comment:
    “As far as the oil platform damage and fire, and the damage to the helipad, there are lasers that emit energy that is invisible to the naked eye night or day. These are the Co2 lasers and can burn thru steel. I don’t know if any of these are orbiting the earth, but they could be mounted in an airplane and easily do the sort of thing depicted in your photos of the oil platform”. – And that is precisely why I am calling the “laser beam” in the videos camera lens flare. Thank you for that, I suspected an invisible laser, but did not know one existed. However, even as that invisible laser made it’s way around the platform, the glowing metal where it hit would have been visible to employees, so a precise hit was needed right from the get-go.

    • Jean says:

      Ethaos, you’ve lost me. Do you have photographs of the oil rig that went down? Did someone send you some? Are you making an analysis from the photos? This is very interesting, but I feel like I’m entering in the middle of the story . . . Helps us all if you can out by detailing it to us. Thanks so much and hugs, ~Jean

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