Since Autumn 2011, GAP has been conducting an investigation into the cover up of medical problems associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We are working with over 25 whistleblowers involving public health and safety threats emanating from the disaster – threats that sharply contrast with public statements by BP officials, and federal government officials' denials and reassurances.
On March 2, 2012, GAP and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), our partner in the Gulf, sent a joint letter to the BP America Ombudsman Program, seeking an explanation for a resource manual (provided to GAP by an anonymous source) that details health risks for Deepwater Horizon spill cleanup workers from both the five million gallons of oil, and the two million gallons of toxic dispersant.
The letter asked the BP Ombudsman to help resolve an apparent, complete contradiction between BP safety reassurances to and restrictions on its employees, compared to the conclusions, warnings and mandatory precautions required by its own internal manual. Confidential whistleblowing disclosures have alerted GAP that the safety manuals either were not delivered or were removed from worksites early in the cleanup.
All correspondence, including the BP Ombudsman's latest response to our inquiry, can be viewed below. We will continue to update the page as new information is made available.
GAP/LEAN Chronologial Dealings with BP Ombudsman Program
(3/1/12) BP VoO Resources Manual: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
A confidential whistleblower informed GAP that the BP Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) Resource Manual was pulled from worksites during the early days of the cleanup. Through the VoO Program, BP contracted (primarily) with Gulf commercial and charter fishing owner/operators to cleanup and monitor the oil offshore.
(3/2/12) GAP/LEAN letter to BP America Ombudsman
GAP and LEAN sent a letter to the BP Ombudsman, regarding the authenticity of the manual and the contradiction between the manual's safety warnings and BP's public reassurances surrounding the safety of the oil spill cleanup. GAP and LEAN, while having received responses (below) from the Ombudsman office, are still waiting for a response by BP America officials to this allegation. More information on this can be found on GAP's corresponding press release by clicking here.
(3/6/12) BP Ombudsman Response #1
The BP Ombudsman confirms receipt of GAP/LEAN's letter dated March 2, and requests an opportunity to interview the confidential source of the resource manual.
(3/15/12) GAP/LEAN Letter
GAP and LEAN respond to the BP Ombudsman that the source of the resource manual will not be revealed; however, GAP and LEAN accept an invitation to meet and to discuss questions laid out in their joint letter to the BP Ombudsman, dated March 2.
(3/21/12) BP Dispersant Questions
GAP and LEAN meet with officials from the BP Ombudsman Program on March 20. As a result of that meeting, GAP and LEAN add an addendum to their letter to BP dated March 2, and submit a series of questions regarding BP's use of the dispersant, COREXIT. The BP Ombudsman offers to arrange a meeting between GAP, LEAN, the BP Ombudsman Program and BP America representatives.
(3/27/12) BP Ombudsman Program Letter
BP Deputy Ombudsman confirms that GAP/LEAN's additional Corexit questions have been submitted to BP America. The Deputy Ombudsman inquires if GAP or LEAN represents parties of the BP settlement, to ensure that meetings do not affect pending litigation.
(3/29/12) GAP/LEAN Letter
GAP and LEAN respond to the BP Ombudsman Deputy that they are open to meeting with BP representatives; however, they request that a BP representative with subject matter expertise attend the meeting to explain and discuss resolution of apparent contradictions and statements by BP pertaining to COREXIT EC9257A and EC9500A.
(7/18/12) BP Ombudsman’s Letter RE BP Meeting
GAP, LEAN and additional community representatives, including Dr. Michael Robichaux (a physician treating sick workers and residents) and Brenda Dar Dar Robichaux (former Chief of the United Houma Nation) meet with representatives from BP America and the BP Deputy Ombudsman’s Office on July 10 at the BP America Headquarters. The meeting was organized by the Ombudsman’s Office to address concerns raised in GAP and LEANs earlier inquiries regarding worker safety, health problems and Corexit use. On July 18 BP Deputy Ombudsman sends a letter acknowledging the meeting and with prospective next steps, including a possible investigation into retaliation by BP against cleanup workers for use of additional safety equipment.
(7/20/12) GAP/LEAN Letter
GAP and LEAN summarize areas of concern that are ongoing or arose from the July 10 meeting with BP, and request that the Ombudsman's Office open investigations into:
- the alleged removal of the Resource Manual from VoO sites; and
- reports of Corexit use after July 17, 2010.
Additionally, they assert that the public must know in advance if any chemical, including a dispersant, is going to be used to treat an oil spill, including time and location of its use. GAP and LEAN would like to work with the Ombudsman's Office to develop a public notification policy by BP. LEAN made clear, however, that its members do not condone the use of Corexit at all, given the environmental and human health impacts that they have witnessed in the aftermath of its use, in addition to the fact that Corexit is outlawed in Britain and additional countries.
(9/18/12) GAP/LEAN Letter
GAP and LEAN met with the Ombudsman’s office to discuss actions taken thus far, and future steps, subsequent to a meeting at the BP headquarters. GAP and LEAN indicate that they are compiling recommendations for a chemical dispersant public notification policy, to be adopted by BP. Further, GAP and LEAN desire additional information surrounding BP’s use of Corexit, an investigation by the Ombudsman’s office into BPs use of Corexit, and an investigation by the Ombudsman’s office into the full extent of BP’s compliance with federal law requiring workplace safety information for VoO workers.
(10/3/12) BP Ombudsman Program Response to Sept. 18 Letter
BP Deputy Ombudsman responds to the GAP/LEAN letter from September 18, 2012, and reflects further on the September 6 meeting. The Deputy Ombudsman expresses a desire to be on the same path moving forward, and summarizes a plan to 1) interview witnesses who alleged Corexit use after BP stated that it stopped using Corexit on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; 2) assist GAP and LEAN in obtaining appropriate medical assessments, compensation and treatment for individuals harmed by the spill; 3) provide a more detailed explanation surrounding the use and removal of the Vessels of Opportunity Resource Manual; and 4) work with GAP, LEAN and BP to develop a public notification program if and when Corexit is used in the future.
(10/18/12) GAP/LEAN Letter
GAP and LEAN, in response to the former letter from the BP Ombudsman Program, clarify that they were required to broaden the scope of their initial request after BP failed to produce substantive information at the July 10 meeting in Houston. GAP and LEAN reiterate immediate priorities for the Ombudsman’s office:
- to commence an investigation determining the full extent of BP’s compliance with federal law requiring workplace safety information for VoO workers.
- to obtain and share records pertaining to BPs use of Corexit 9527A and Corexit EC 9500A from April 20, 2010 through the present, including Corexit dissemination by BP contractors, subcontractors and the Coast Guard on BP’s behalf.
GAP and LEAN indicate that they are continuing to draft a model public notification policy for dispersant use.