Dear Mothers of the Earth:
The Mothers Project, (TMP) requests your participation in a new initiative to bring attention to the plight of the indigenous people living on the Louisiana Coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
We have the opportunity to join with Plenty International, (Plenty) an established relief organization in their annual “toy drive” for these native American children still suffering from events in the Gulf over the last four years. Plenty International was founded in 1974 and has taken part in disaster relief throughout its 38 year history.
More specifically, as a result of Katrina, The Deep Water Horizon (BP) oil spill and a series of more recent storms having wreaked havoc on the lives of these people, Plenty has been continuously involved in relief work in the Gulf since September 2, 2005. Through its direct aid to families, with home repair, supplies, and other support, Plenty has developed long term relationships with some of the most vulnerable communities in the region.
Through a series of conversations which began earlier this year, with the leadership of Plenty and the Pointe-au-Chien Tribe and the Isle de Jean Charles band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, it is clear to me as a mother and grandmother, that despite what we see in mass media advertisements, the Gulf has by no means returned to normal!
Since the BP oil spill and the careless spraying of toxic dispersants, the shrimp and oysters fishing trade has undeniably disappeared; most fear consumption from anything fished from the Gulf waters since the toxic dispersants served to sink the oil to the bottom of the ocean only to be churned up to shore with every new storm. As a result of government recovery efforts, widely viewed as inadequate, the Gulf waters now produce the deformed fish,
shown in the picture to the right. These waters no longer appear capable of sustaining life for the unique culture of the Biloxi Chititmacha Choctaw, Native American still living in this section of Louisiana; a people whose roots date back prior to the 17th century.
Deprived of their livelihood* and the unique richness of their healthy way of life and forced to eat only what they can buy with meager funds, what was once a precious, indigenous community, living in harmony with an ecologically rich environment, has been turned into yet another community sacrificed to the oil and gas industry and America’s destructive myopic view of energy.*Criminality in the Gulfco/
This “holiday drive” is our first but will not be our only effort in the Gulf. We are grateful for this opportunity to be able to express our deep concern and solidarity with the people of the Gulf. In keeping with our mission, as mothers to create a global movement against fossil fuels and toward a sustainable energy future, it is my hope that we will continue efforts to learn more about the thoughts, needs and hopes of these Native Americans. As mothers we have compassion for their plight and share their commitment to a healthy life for all children. As such we are determined to bring attention to the injustices delivered by our government in its complicity with the very powerful and indifferent oil and gas industry.
The Mothers Project will be present at Plenty’s “Christmas to the Families” in Pointe-au-Chene and Isle de Jean Charles on December 14, 15, 2012 (both in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana), and be contributing gifts for Chief Albert’s Annual Toy Giveaway Parade on December 22, 2012.
We are providing you with an opportunity to contribute in 3 ways: (1) In kind, (2) gift cards, (3) cash, please earmark all gifts: TMP Bayou Christmas.
We are supporting gifts, in kind, or gift cards from the following retailers:
Eco friendly toys and bikes
Patagonia Sports Clothing/excellent for toddlers and young children/parents may want to use gift cards from here.
http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/Wilson-Recycled-Basketball Eco Friendly Sport Equipment
Toys and Bikes are especially appreciated. Donations in kind must be shipped in time to be received by December 21st, directly to:
Chief Albert Naquin
100 Dennis Street
Montegut, LA 70377
(Upon making a donation in “kind” please notify us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Giving by purchasing GIFT CARDS in any denomination earmarked, TMP Bayou Christmas sent directly to: The Mothers Project, Inc.,2753 Broadway, N.Y., N.Y 10025,,must be received by December 12, 2012. Please note that: these gift cards will be brought directly by TMP for distribution to tribal families on December 14th and 15. Gift cards are very important because they allow families to buy additional items the children may need.
All cash contributions are tax deductible and will be used to purchase additional gift cards in local grocery stores: Please earmark your donation TMP Bayou Christmas.
Your cash contribution can be made by using the Donate Button on this side of the page.
Cash contributions can also be made by check to our fiscal sponsor, payable to Sustainable Markets Foundation, 45 West 36 Street, 6th floor, N.Y., N.Y 10018-76
With sincere thanks, Angela Monti Fox, Founder
The Mothers Project, Inc
Email: email@example.com Phone: 646-519-1076 Any Questions please contact me directly.
———UP DATE —-UNFINISHED BUSINESS—-
Unfinished Business: The Unspoken Link Between Dispersants and Sick Children in the Gulf of Mexico
by Riki Ott
All six of Julie Creppel’s young children are sick. Vomiting. Blisters all over their bodies, even in their throats. Boils. Severe headaches that wake them up screaming at night. Nausea. Fevers. Diarrhea. Stomach spasms that contort their bodies in pain. Skin lesions. Psoriasis. Nose bleeds that gush unexpectedly. Respiratory infections. Dizziness. Sinus infections. Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. Hair loss. And more.
The Creppels live in Boothville, La., in south Plaquemines Parrish. Area health clinics and hospitals are experiencing an influx of sick children for treatment for a range of symptoms that began after the BP oil disaster. The increase in numbers of sick children coincides with the massive spraying of toxic chemical dispersants into the water and air that began in 2010. More troubling is the fact that the children are still having these symptoms to this day.
The Corexit dispersants used in the Gulf are known human health hazards, causing eye and skin irritation, respiratory problems, harm to liver, kidney, and blood cells, injury and even death to unborn babies, immune suppression, skin disorders, and more.
Not surprisingly, the symptoms Julie’s children suffer are epidemic across the Gulf states that were impacted by the BP disaster — and the secondary disaster, the widespread use of Nalco’s Corexit dispersants. Most medical doctors in the Gulf have continuously treated the sick with standard drugs used for infections and viruses. Nasonex. Citirizine. DryMax. Azithromycin. Zofran. Cefdinir. Xopenex. Amoxicilin. Flovent. Suprax. Viravan-P. Albuterol. Cefixime. Ichitha ointment. Budesonide. And more.
Some of these are potent drugs that children should not be taking for long periods of time because of side effects, including, ironically, many of the very symptoms being treated. They are taking the drugs for months and now even years because the children (and adults) are not getting better. So the medical doctors prescribe more drugs, but the persistence of the symptoms belies the diagnoses.
It should be clear to the medical community by now that they are misdiagnosing the illness and mistreating the patient. I believe the children are suffering from chemical illness, not from biological agents. This should have been clear back in 2010 after the first six to eight rounds of antibiotics and medication prescribed for babies, elders, coastal residents, visitors, and spill responders didn’t clear the symptoms. It should have been clear two years after the disaster in March 2012 when BP completely reversed its position of denial of any harm to human health from oil-dispersant exposure and listed pages of same symptoms and illnesses that people had been reporting for two years as now covered by the BP medical benefits settlement (Exhibit — so-called, I can only suppose, because it mostly benefits BP, but that’s another story.
The problem is the illnesses – like BP’s oil — just don’t “go away” because it’s an inconvenience for oil companies and the federal government in charge of an impossible situation: There is no way to clean up oil spills, including tar sands spills. But there are many ways to lessen the impacts to workers and the public, none of which have been done to date in the Gulf.
Plenty has been done to lessen the liability and financial impacts to BP and the other companies involved in this tragedy. The most recent injustice was when U.S. District Judge Barbier dismissed Nalco from lawsuits over health problems stemming from use of its products. Barbier shielded Nalco from liability because, he reasoned, the dispersants had been approved by the federal government, and in most cases pre-approved by the Gulf states for use during spill response. The judge also was noted that a lawsuit might have a “chilling” effect on future use of these same dispersants in oil spill response — exactly the opposite effect desired by the federal government and the oil industry.
The two main dispersants stockpiled in the United States for use on future spills are Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527A — the same dispersants that were known to be harmful to ecosystems and humans before the BP disaster, and that proved to be so after the disaster. These two dispersants are stockpiled in coastal communities around the contiguous United States and in Alaska and Hawaii. Most are owned either by the U.S. Coast Guard regional strike teams or the major national Oil Spill Response Organizations.
The federal government shields itself from any liability for use of these and other dangerous oil spill response products. Even worse, the federal government now considers human health an acceptable “risk tradeoff” for dispersant use. The March 2012 Dispersant Use Initiative, a document intended to guide and plan research needs and decision-making in future spills, states that key needs include, among others, “understanding risk to workers and public safety, and communicating the risk successfully, and understanding the trade offs of using dispersants with respect to human health” (emphasis added).
In other words, what happened in the Gulf of Mexico could happen to anyone who lives or works near, or recreates, or visits America’s coasts. Many of the same chemicals in dispersants are also ingredients in diluents for tar sands and drilling fluids for hydraulic fracturing and manufactured by — guess who — Nalco. We need to stick together on this one, or all get sick together. Making it right in the Gulf is up to all of us before the next marine oil disaster.
Here are some suggestions for how YOU can help make it right in the Gulf.
1. Write a short letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in support of the People’s Petition to amend the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan to ban toxic chemicals, including Corexit dispersants, from use in U.S. territorial waters. The letter should refer the People’s Petition, document number AX120019088, and state who you are, why you care, and what you want the EPA to do. Personal letters carry more weight than form letters. Mail to: Lisa Jackson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460.
2. Find out what dispersants or products are stockpiled in your backyard for oil spill response. Start by contacting your State Emergency Response Commission (google State name + SERC). The SERC page will list all the Local Emergency Planning Committees. Contact an LEPC near you and ask for a complete list of oil spill response products, which they will have as required under the Community Right-to-Know Act. For coastal communities, I would be surprised if that list did not include the ubiquitous Corexit dispersants. Raise local support to have your municipality pass a rights-based resolution to ban toxic dispersants and chemicals during oil spill response within the city’s jurisdiction. Aresolution template is available at www.ultimatecivics.org.
3. Ask your congressional delegates to hold hearings to investigate the link between Corexit dispersants and public health, especially children’s health, in the Gulf of Mexico. Ask your delegates to support banning Corexit dispersants used during the BP Gulf disaster, as human health “tradeoffs” cannot be justified.
I would like to personally appeal to Warren Buffet to fund community health clinics in the Gulf of Mexico. His stock trading company Berkshire Hathaway bought shares of Nalco in 2009 before the BP disaster as an investment on water filtration, which at the time was most of Nalco’s business. Berkshire divested its Nalco holdings in late 2010 — after Nalco made millions in dispersant sales. The idea for community health clinics originated within the impacted communities as a way of getting treatment for immediate needs, but it was cherry-picked by BP as the centerpiece of BP’s medical benefits settlement. One clinic in particular in Jean Lafitte, La., was ready to open its door to clients in fall 2011 but the doors remain closed because the settlement is stalled in court. Opening that clinic, now and independent of BP controls embedded in the settlement, could be done with private donations to the Jean Lafitte Health Clinic.
Early into the BP disaster, I warned people about the short- and long-term consequences of exposure to oil and dispersants. Now those consequences are hitting home — especially vulnerable are the children. Don’t believe those BP ads. We need to all help make this right for real.
Riki Ott will be touring the Gulf of Mexico in February, helping communities organize at the grassroots level to ban toxic chemical dispersants. Persons interested in hosting a training should contact via her web site, www.RikiOtt.com.
© 2012 Riki Ott
Riki Ott, PhD is a Marine toxicologist and Exxon Valdez survivor. Her latest book, Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez is on social trauma of this disaster. She is a co-founder of Ultimate Civics, a project of Earth Island Institute.