Letter to Administrator Jackson and Secretary Sebelius

Lisa Jackson
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Chair, Eco-System Restoration Task Force
United States Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

May 24, 2011

Dear Administrator Jackson and Secretary Sebelius,

The below signed organizations would like to express our concern about the growing health crisis on the Gulf coast. We believe action must be taken immediately to help the people of the Gulf coast who are currently suffering health impacts and those who will become ill because of the continuing impacts of the BP oil disaster. Specifically, we are writing to ask for the creation of a Task Force for health restoration to find and implement appropriate solutions to the growing health crisis on the Gulf coast.   

We are asking you for:

•    Comprehensive restoration. Our health, economy, and environment are interconnected and solutions must reflect this.

•    A Gulf Coast Health Restoration Task Force that includes community members with decision-making authority to address our long and short-term health needs.

•    The implementation of the Oil Spill Commission Report Recommendations on health. The Oil Spill Commission stated that EPA should develop distinct plans and procedures to address human health impacts during a Spill of National Significance (See pages 38-39).

•    The publication of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) type documents containing lists of potential synergistic health effects of exposure to the combination of oil, dispersants, oil and dispersants combined, any natural and/or bioengineered bacteria, and any other chemical or “natural” product used in response to the BP spill.      

As you know, between April 20 and July 15, 2010, it is estimated that 1.84 million gallons of Corexit 9500 and 9527 was applied to BP crude oil—1.07 million were applied to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and 771,000 gallons were applied subsurface to the wellhead. For every 93 gallons of oil discharged, one gallon of dispersant was applied. The amounts of crude oil discharged and toxic dispersants released are unprecedented and it was people of the Gulf coast who were the first responders to the BP oil disaster and continue to live in the most heavily impacted areas.

There is no understanding of what this toxic cocktail has done and will continue to do to the health of those living on the Gulf coast. Though the oil discharged for 87 days, communities are still reporting continued dispersant spraying, watching oil continue to wash up on our shores, and seeing devastating impacts on our marine life. One year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the people of the Gulf coast are still in need of proper diagnosis, treatment, and medical monitoring.

Currently, there is no government forum for those that are suffering from and concerned about the short and long term health impacts to share their stories and solutions, and from which to expect guidance and action. These concerns are therefore being expressed at other government-sponsored meetings, from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to NOAA’s NRDA commenting session, and all the formal and informal listening sessions in between that are taking place across the Gulf coast. We cannot adequately move forward on these important ecosystem recovery and restoration issues while the health of our people is not being adequately addressed.

Making our communities whole again includes helping every man, woman, and child who has become and will become sick as a result of the BP Oil disaster. Restoring our environment also means restoring our community’s health.

We look forward to hearing back from you on this very important issue. Please contact Tracy Kuhns by phone at 504-289-7162 or by email at bayoukeeper@cox.net or Marylee Orr by phone at 225-588-5059 or by email at marylee@leanweb.org to discuss this matter further.


Atchfalaya Basinkeeper               Advocates For Environmental Human Rights

Air Alliance Houston                  Alabama Coastal Heritage Trust    

Alabama Rivers Alliance              Alamos Riverkeeper                       

Alaska Community Action on Toxics      Alaska Trollers Association               

Altamaha Riverkeeper               Apalachicola Riverkeeper

Assateague COASTKEEPER                Asian Americans for Change

Association Of Family Fishermen

Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)

Big Blackfoot Riverkeeper                Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper

Black Warrior Riverkeeper                Boat People SOS

Bogota Riverkeeper                    Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER

Cahaba Riverkeeper                   Calhoun County Resource Watch

Cartagena Baykeeper                   Casco Baykeeper

Central Huallaga Riverkeeper            Center for Fair Housing.

Center For Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ),

Centro para la Sustentabilidad "Incalli Ixcahuicopa", Universidad Autónoma

Children's Environmental Protection Alliance NGO

Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper               Citizens Against Toxic Exposure

Coastal Women for Change               Cook Inletkeeper                    

Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc.                  Colorado Riverkeeper                

Columbia Riverkeeper              Commercial Fishermen of America

Community Development Task Force Inc

Countywide Family Development Center, Inc.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network               Disaster Accountability Project             

Earth Day Network                  Emerald Coastkeeper                      

Environmental Health Fund                     Environmental Health Strategy Center

Fannie Lou Hamer center for change      Federation Of Southern Cooperatives      

Fishing Partnership Health Plan          Flint Riverkeeper               

Florida Wildlife Federation             Fraser Riverkeeper               

French Broad Riverkeeper                 Fresh Fish Live Bait Co

Galveston Baykeeper                  Global Community Monitor

Global Green                     Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association

Greater Birmingham Ministries              Greenpeace US                 

Guardians Of The Gulf             Gulf Change                      

Gulf Islands Conservancy

Gulf Organized Fishermen In Solidarity and Hope (GO FISH)

Gulf Restoration Network               Gunpowder Riverkeeper

Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc.           Haw River Assembly                  

Haw Riverkeeper                        Housatonic River Initiative

Hudson Riverkeeper

Immaculate Heart Community Development Corp. Inc.

Indian Riverkeeper                         Indiana Toxics Action

Interfaith Power & Light

Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw

Karen Bowman & Associates             LA Oystermen Association                 

Levees.Org                              London Canalkeeper                   

Loretto Earth Network              Louisana Bayoukeeper                              

Louisiana Bucket Brigade                        Louisiana Environmental Action Network

Louisiana Shrimp Association          Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper               

Lower Neuse RIVERKEEPER®            Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper            

Kentucky Environmental Foundation     Magdalena Baykeeper                 

Mayday New Orleans

Mary Queen Of Viet Nam Community Development Corporation

Mercy Housing & Human Development

Milwaukee Riverkeeper                      Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities

Mobile Baykeeper                                 

MS Coalition For Vietnamese-American Fisherfolks And Families

Natural Resources Defense Council      Neuse RIVERKEEPER® Foundation

NOLA Emergency Response               North Gulfport Community Landtrust     

North Sound Baykeeper              Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance        

Ogeechee Riverkeeper           Ouachita Riverkeeper                

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance            Patuxent Riverkeeper                   

Quad Cities WATERKEEPER       Qiantang River Waterkeeper              

Raritan RIVERKEEPER           RFK Center For Justice And Human Rights

Sabine Riverkeeper               San Francisco Baykeeper Emeritus.

Satilla Riverkeeper               Savannah Riverkeeper

Shenandoah Riverkeeper            Sierra Club

Silent No More Ministries                     Silver Valley Community Resource Center

Silver Valley Waterkeeper                     SouthWings

Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc

Southern Shrimp Alliance                   Spokane Riverkeeper

Steps Coalition                       St. Johns Riverkeeper                   

Surfrider Foundation                      Tennessee RIVERKEEPER                     

Terrebonne Readiness & Assistance Coalition (TRAC)

Texas Injured Workers                 Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

The Delaware Riverkeeper             The Praxis Project.

The Solution To Pollution Project

The Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Inc,

Tijuana Waterkeeper                 Tri-Coastal Community Outreach, Inc

Treasure Coast Environmental Defense Fund

Turkey Creek Community Initiatives

United Commercial Fishermen of America

United Church of Christ (Justice & Witness Ministries)  

United Houma Nation                 

United Louisiana Vietnamese American Fisherfolk

Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper          Upper Watauga Riverkeeper                     

Vaytka Riverkeeper                Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER®          

Waterkeeper Alliance                 Western North Carolina Allliance

West Virginia Headwaters Waterkeeper White Oak-New Riverkeeper.

Wings Of Care, Inc.                         Yadkin Riverkeeper, Inc.

David Lakey, MD, Texas Department of State Health Services
Bruce Greenstein, State of Louisiana, Department of Health & Hospitals
Mary Currier, MD, Mississippi State Department of Health
Donald Williamson, MD, Alabama Department of Public Health
Ana M. Viamonte Ros, MD, Florida Department of Health
Regina Benjamin, MD, U.S. Surgeon General

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