Mark Manning, director of The Road to Fallujah, has been covering the BP Oil Spill for six years. Being immersed in the communities suffering severe health circumstances following that spill and the risky ‘clean-up’ operations using chemical dispersants, prompted him to act on the current response to the Shell spill off the Louisiana coast.
He released a short outtake from his documentary film on rising film and his Facebook page highlighting the risks that all spill workers face and the risks that current Shell clean-up contractors are unknowingly facing today. Crude oil and the chemicals used to clean them pose grave risk to workers. Manning believes that all workers need full blood screens before and immediately after exposure to test and treat for chemical illness resulting from the toxic nature of oil spills. He is deeply concerned that these and other basic health safety measures are not being taken and that the health of spill workers is not being made a priority.
Manning, with his Emmy and Academy Award winning team, have been covering the personal stories of Gulf Coast residents and spill workers exposed to oil-chemical toxins following the BP Oil Spill for the making of The Rising film and campaign. What they have learned over the course of six years working with toxicologists, biologists, medical professionals and community members, leaves them extremely concerned that oil spill responders presently working on the Shell spill as well as those who will be called in as the clean-up process picks up, are at tremendous health risk. These workers have the right to be educated on the true short and long-term health effects of exposure to oil-chemical combinations and must be provided with proper protective gear immediately.
Six years after the clean-up operations for the BP Spill, workers have ongoing complaints of skin lesions, respiratory distress, seizures, heart problems, fatigue, headaches and much more. The community medical response is severely lacking and does not include chemical exposure treatment. The necessary studies for long-term illness and disease resulting from exposure is not being done. In addition, most workers were not provided with all and in some cases any, of the recommended Personal Protective Equipment. If, no formal spill-worker chemical exposure symptom education and protective gear policy updates appear to have resulted from the BP Oil Spill disaster to-date, a question begs to be asked and answered: “Have we learned anything?”
Said BP oil spill worker in The Rising film, “We asked for respirators and they told us that would be an act for termination.” Another worker said, “Our bodies were covered in oil – and still no personal protective gear.” Manning says the story of one fishing family who was asked for use of their boat in clean-up operations really gets him in the gut. A wife and her husband had clean-up crew on their boat but weren’t given any protective gear as pellets were being dumped into the sheen. “Dust was coming off of it. It got all over the cabin. They never told us it was bad for us. Since all this happened I lost my husband…watched him wither away in less than a year.”
“This year the impact on human health is more evident than ever! What started six years ago as flu-like symptoms, problems breathing, bad headaches, and skin lesions, has become debilitating illnesses, cancers, and death. There is no more ignoring this.” – Dr. Riki Ott, Marine Toxicologist.
The Rising film is still in production and is expected to be released into the heart of the 2016 presidential campaign, raising serious questions about the U.S. response to offshore and other oil disasters as well as the use of the dispersant, Corexit, which use has been severely restricted and banned outright by countries like the UK. A crowdfunding campaign will soon launch to attract the funds needed to complete the documentary for international distribution.