Deep Water Horizon: Deep Concerns for First Responders

On April 20, 2010, the crew of the off-shore drilling rig Deep Water Horizon began capping the 13000 foot underwater well, a procedure that most had performed countless times before. Over the next several hours a series of otherwise minor complications cumulated into the worst disaster of its kind in US history. Now, eight years later the clean up continues and thousands of those who responded to rescue rig workers, contain the pollutions plume and clean up thousands of miles of water & shore impacted face their own battle with ongoing, and sometimes deadly, health complications. If you were one of these first responders, it is imperative you not only monitor your health, and discuss possible complications with your medical professionals, but that you also know you may be entitled to part of the financial settlement.

It is difficult for the average person to understand exactly how bad the Deep-Water Horizon event was. It is easy to call something “the worst ever,” but like many phrases, it is often overused, and the meaning becomes diminished. Even with daily, sometimes 24-hour coverage the magnitude is hard to understand. To put things in perspective, let’s look at some of the numbers.

• At its peak, an estimated 60,000 barrels per day weak flowing into the surrounding waters and the flow lasted for 87 days.
• Almost 4,400 miles of shoreline and thousands of square miles of offshore water were impacted.
• On the worst day response included over 6,000 vessels, 102 aircraft, and almost 48,000 personnel

Now, eight years later, the surrounding area is still suffering- with multiple species of plants, animals, and aquatic resources suffering. But so are many of the first responders. Thousands of those who spend those weeks and months patrolling the area, recovering spill material and monitoring cleanup progress have become gravely ill, or even died, from what they claim is a direct result of exposure to pollutants and clean up chemicals.

Although no one wanted to consider the possibility that first responders were facing deadly illnesses simply because they were doing their jobs, it was not without precedent. Hundreds of 9/11 responders have faced similar health challenges. BP was quick to accept responsibility for the spill and promise to pay for all associated damages, but those involved in the cleanup the claim they have been overlooked when it comes to receiving their fair share of the billions paid out.

On June 16, 2010, BP executives agreed to establish a $20 billion response fund which would be used to compensate for natural resource damage, response cost by state & local authorities and compensate individuals impacted. It was also agreed that this fund would not be used to pay assessed fines or penalties, which were sure to be astronomical as well. To date, almost 22,700 responders, primarily those hired to conduct clean-up operations, settled claims but the average claim was less than $3000.

Thousands of others are who filed medical related claims are still waiting and will likely need to appeal to the courts for resolution.

Despite BP’s early claims of responsibility officials have since taken a harder stance, denying many claims and fighting others in court. In their defense, the early statements were made before anyone knowing exactly how serious the event would ultimately be, or how many potential victims would surface. The result has been class action suits and a team of lawyers appointed to oversee negotiations. Reams of legal documents, agreements, and court findings makes it impossible to list the criteria that must be met before determining whether or not a particular responder may be eligible for compensation. If you think you might have been exposed, especially if you are now suffering possibly related health difficulties, it is imperative you consult medical, and legal professionals before any possibility of compensation evaporate.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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