Feinberg denies meeting with local citizens made ill from oil disaster, despite promises
Although, Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator Kenneth Feinberg had agreed to meet with a coalition of local citizens on two occasions during meetings held by the facility in South Louisiana, the presidential appointee has not responded to repeated attempts to facilitate the gathering.
At GCCF sponsored meetings held on January 10 in Houma, LA, and again on January 28 in Montegut, LA, Feinberg had agreed to meet with local citizens concerning the growing health and environmental impact arising from the Gulf Oil Catastrophe of 2010 as shown in independent testing, and their implications upon the final claims payment methodology.
Louisiana musician Drew Landry, who spent most of the summer documenting the spill, asked Feinberg in the crowded facilities to meet with him and others concerning information available from independent testing and recent scientific data that Landry felt might not be included in the final formula for payments. Feinberg agreed stating “Yes, we will make that happen.”
A few days proceeding, Landry did receive an email from Feinberg’s secretary, Landry told her, “I’m waiting for him to make good on his word, a lot of people are.”
Landry and me, a journalist, mother, and wife of an oil worker, were recently included in a blood test study conducted by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, which revealed us having 6 out of 10 toxic solvents related to the Deepwater Horizon event. We spent much of the last 8 months documenting the spill and had high concentrations of Ethylbenzene, Hexane, Xylene, 2-Methylpentane, 3-Methylpentane and Isooctane.
Concentrates of these volatile organic compounds are known to cause increased risk for leukemia, aplastic anemia, miscarriages, fatigue, headaches, depression and damage to liver, heart, kidneys, lungs and the nervous system, according to Metamatrix Clinical Laboratories.
Landry states, “A large number of people who either cleaned up the spill or were residents of the areas affected, many who are my friends, are now experiencing symptoms including headaches, diarrhea, staph infections, lesions, dizziness, confusion, depression and respiratory illness. My real concern is for children, elderly, and people who were in poor health before the spill”
“Through independent testing compiled by LEAN, other sources and previous spills, there is an abundant amount of information to show that these illnesses will not go away and may cause cancers and deaths all along the Gulf in the years to come.”
More contentions for local citizens is the lack of adequate testing of seafood, environmental impact and studies regarding loss of industry in the Gulf.
“These should all be taken into account when processing final payments to individuals and businesses; as well as, when discussing future litigation opportunities to folks,” Landry states.
Landry may well have reason for concern, in a recent study conducted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution by chemist Elizabeth Kujawinski, released on January 26, indicate that dispersants used around, and injected into the well sight, have had “little or no biodegradation.”
According to Kujanwinski, relatively little is known about the potential effects of this type of dispersant/hydrocarbon combination in the deep ocean, “We need toxicity studies.”
“It stand to reason,“ Landry states, “that if it is not breaking down out there, it will not along the shoreline where they sprayed either. Who knows how this will affect the fishing industry in the years to come”.
Other relevant testing may include seafood purchased over the counter and tested by the citizens activist group NOLA ER which found 193 parts per million of grease and oil in the shrimp samples. As well as, LEAN testing that analyzed tissue samples from fiddler crabs, shrimp, oysters, flounder and speckled trout showing “huge quantities of hydrocarbons”.
How can you make an assessment of future impact on our Gulf and people, without taking into regard all of the information available to you? And with the way the claims process has unfolded, with many people now without funds, is it a fair choice to say you can eat now and give up you rights without fully understanding future damages or wait to eat for years until this goes through litigation?
Regardless of recent information available or promises made, the GCCF released on February 2, the methodology for final claim payments without consideration of the request for a meeting. Within that formula no mention was made to testing conducted from independent sources or citizen testimony. Yet, in an interview Feinberg stated that he had “canvassed the universe,” for relevant studies and expects a full recovery of the Gulf in 3 years.
These tests are ironically from the same scientist that accurately predicted the Bay of Campeche spill would take decades to recoever. Although this leak was much worse and a record amount of COREXIT was used to disperse the oil… the difference here may be the 500 million dollars BP gave to Texas A&M for the research. This renforces the need to give independent testing consideration and sheds more light on the apparent lack of transparency in throughout the claims process.
In a coincidental turn of events, on the same day that the methodology was released U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier stated in a ruling that Feinberg was not “independent of British Petroleum” and “must clearly disclose in all communications that he is acting for and on behalf of BP in fulfilling its obligations..”
We all already knew that, and that is why it stands to reason that he would not meet with us as he had agreed. Why would a representative of BP want to ponder that this may affect our people and environment for decades and then have to pay out accordingly?
Both Landry and I will be attending a forum titled Health Effects of the Gulf Oil Disaster, set to be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, 5212 S. Claiborne, New Orleans, Saturday, February 5, 3:00 to 5:30 pm, which was organized by activist Elizabeth Cook.
Animal Planet, the Discovery Channel, and local news outlets will be in attendance, and the event will be broadcast via the internet at www.youtube.com/user/FluxRostrum.
Note: this article was adapted from a press release.
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- Kenneth Feinberg and the GCCF - How You Can Help
Cherri Foytlin is an oil worker's wife, mother of six, Louisiana resident and journalist whose family has been deeply impacted by the BP Gulf Oil Spill and consequential moratorium on deep water drilling. She has been a constant voice, speaking out to the Obama Administration's Gulf Oil Spill Commission, and in countless forms of media. On July 15, 2010, in a CNN interview, she called out to the president for help, but was unanswered. She has also spoken at "The Rally for Economic Survival" and at the "Spill Into Washington Rally" in Washington D.C.where she challenged the American people to get involved in what she sees as an "atrocity on the shores" of the Gulf Coast. In addition, Cherri has written and illustrated a children's coloring book on coastal erosion. Cherri will continue her fight for the industries, people, culture and wildlife of south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast "until we are made whole again".