The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Location
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Birthday
December 02
Bio
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author of 2 young adult novels - Battle for Tomorrow and A Rebel Comes of Age - and a free ebook 21st Century Revolution. My 2010 memoir The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about my books (and me) at www.stuartjeannebramhall.com

MY RECENT POSTS

NOVEMBER 11, 2011 3:49PM

Oil Spills Can Kill You

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Dr Riki Ott

Dr Riki Ott Marine Toxicologist

The Conspiracy of Silence around PAHs

Recently volunteers from all over New Zealand flocked to one of our most pristine beach and wildlife areas to help clean up a massive fuel oil spill from a freighter that ran aground off Tauranga. The government, which initially banned untrained volunteers from assisting, reversed themselves when they realized they had insufficient trained personnel. The public health officer warned that people who worked in areas with strong petroleum fumes might experience headaches, respiratory problems, stomach upset and dizziness for few days. However he reassured us there would be no long term health effects.

The irony here is that Christchurch makes visitors to the “red” inner zone sign disclaimers that they might be trapped or killed by falling buildings. Yet in Tauranga, the government allows hundreds of Kiwis to expose themselves to toxic oil fumes without informing them that inhaling polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can cause cancer, birth and immune defects, miscarriage, bleeding and nervous system disorders and a host of other chronic medical problems (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/pah/docs/pah.pdf).

Should this be a surprise, coming from the same Ministry of Health that denied for years that lead, asbestos, dioxin and fluoride are dangerous to human health? See * below for a list of common PAHs.

The Obama/BP Cover-up

We see the same conspiracy of silence in the way Obama and BP have dealt with the 2010 Gulf oil spill, even though hundreds of workers continue to be seriously ill more than a year after the disaster officially ended with the capping of the damaged Horizon well. People who followed the Gulf tragedy closely will recall that BP threatened to fire clean-up workers (many fishermen put out of work by the spill) who wore respirators to protect themselves from the toxic fumes. Apparently this wasn’t so much to protect BP’s image as to reduce their liability for future health problems.

Environmental scientists have warned of the dangers of human exposure to large quantities of petroleum-based PAHs – through air and skin contact and contaminated food –  since two-thirds of the nearly 7,000 workers who cleaned up the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 developed long term illnesses. Many have died or become permanently disabled as a result of PAH exposure.

Enter Riki Ott

It was her direct experience in Valdez that led former Alaska fisherwoman Dr Riki Ott to become a marine toxicologist and devote her life to ending the conspiracy of silence around this major public health problem (see http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/09/oil_spill_expert_riki_ott_outl.html). At present, Riki is helping residents of Emmett Michigan address a myriad of health problems after a tar sands oil pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of diluted bitumen oil into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010. Emmett children are disproportionately affected. However both adults and children are complaining of persistent breathing problems, weakness, headaches, rashes, chronic stomach upset and diarrhea, pins and needless, sore throats and blisters in their throat, bloody noses and blood in their urine and stool. There is an excellent video of Riki’s presentation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNYseR-eZ54

Why Corexit Increases Toxicity

As Riki and other environmental scientists have discovered, adding the toxic dispersant Corexit (banned in the UK because it’s an endocrine disruptor) solves the cosmetic problem of ugly black goo on rocks, beaches and surface water. However it substantially increases the risk of animal and human exposure to PAHs. It does so by causing the oil to remain suspended in the water, where it’s more bioavailable to the food chain and more easily released to the air. Without Corexit treatment, most of the PAHs get trapped in sticky tar balls that can be collected and disposed of as they roll up on the beach. They used Corexit in both New Orleans and Tauranga and an unknown fresh water dispersant in Michigan.

In Emmett, those most affected weren’t clean-up workers but residents living close proximity to the Kalamazoo River. Yet they have experienced the exact same health problems as clean-up workers from Exxon Valdez, the Gulf oil spill and a 2007 spill in South Korea Riki studied. In the twenty years since the Exxon Valdez disaster, molecular biologists have pinpointed the extensive damage PAHs cause at the cellular level, including direct DNA damage leading to cancer and birth defects.

To be continued.

* List of toxic PAHs (from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)

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Comments

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I hope my beloved Tuatara’s are not at risk from this latest spill the fact that an animal that has remained unchanged for 100 million years is evolving at a DNA level - faster than any other animal is a real kick in the face to “evolutionary science”. I wouldn’t be surprised if the the Darwinistas targeted this living fossil for extermination, its such an inconvenient truth. As for all your worry's about oil spills Dr. haven’t you heard Obama says everything is just fine, as your close cousins the aussies say: “no worry's”
Fortunately the Tuataras are okay, as there are very few in the wild. They mostly live in reserves now. I saw one about a month ago in the Kotare Reserve in Wellington.

There's a lot of concern about one species of migrating seabirds that are endangered and nest near Tauranga.
This sounds like the standard operating procedure; if the "little people" polluted the land of the rich CEOs they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law but when the CEOs and other politically connected people destroy the environment in ways that many find confusing little or nothing is done. We only get as much justice as we can afford to pay for unless the corporations can afford to tie us up in court for decades.

It makes me think of the time Julia Roberts, playing Erin offered the people from the utility companies a glass of water then told them where it came from just before they drank it and they stopped. this was of course just after they told her the same water was safe if I remember correctly.
Zachery, nearly every inhabitant of the planet has 100 or so toxic chemicals in their bloodstream. This is a very serious problem, which will mean Americans who are presently under 50 are very unlikely to live as long as their parents and grandparents. One glimmer of hope in all this is the Chemical Trespass movement. Thus far Halifax Virginia and three towns in Pennsylvania have passed laws penalizing corporations for Chemical Trespass - while dozens more are attempting to pass them. Chemical Trespass is defined as the involuntary exposure of human beings to toxic chemicals.