I’d like to remind you what happened on April 20, 2010, a fateful day that too many are still suffering with the aftermath.
As we observe the 8th anniversary of the BP disaster in the Gulf, tens of thousands of men and women who cleaned up this unnecessary environmental catastrophe still suffer due to the negligence and greed of politicians, attorneys and administrators for those impacted by the largest single oil spill in America’s history.
As this year’s BP disaster anniversary falls on Earth Day, I’m calling attention to these facts in the Garretson Resolution Group Status Report(February 2018) and verified at the facebook site Justice for BP Health Victims:
— Cleanup workers were injured and made sick because they were not provided with or required to wear safety equipment.
— Many cleanup workers suffered injuries, respiratory problems, ocular problems, dermal problems and other chronic conditions from the moment they were exposed, but 80 percent of those who submitted a claim in the outlined process were either denied or only given the bare minimum compensation.
— Many cleanup workers and spill-impact-zone residents are developing cancer, blood diseases, and neurologic problems from exposure to the spill’s toxic chemicals.
— The so-called Medical Benefits settlement to provide compensation for the aforementioned chronic conditions has been effectively eliminated, as only 40 claims out of 37,226 qualified for compensation for a chronic condition were paid.
— A vast majority of claimants with chronic conditions are being forced to file an individual lawsuit against BP and pay a $400 filing fee to do so. Eight years after the spill, none of these claimants have been able to present their evidence to a jury and the Judge has stayed these cases indefinitely.
These victims are our neighbors, friends and family. Many of these victims do not have health insurance and cannot afford treatment.
The reality is many outside our region have forgotten about this disaster. As noted in the 2018 GRG report, the Plaintiff Steering Committee walked away with $700 million; the Claims Administrator, in charge of processing the first round of payments to victims, walked away with $155 million. The total paid to ALL victims? $60 million.
My anger and focus on this miscarriage of justice will not end. While I speak out on every anniversary, this one is particularly urgent because the grave injustices which persist are adding up for our cleanup workers and our residents.
Lieutenant General Russel Honoré
U.S. Army, retired