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Hopper Dredge Safety: Building Louisiana Sand Berms to Block the BP Oil Spill is Dangerous Work

Dredging in Louisiana has officially commenced, in an effort to create sand berms that will inhibit the spreading of oil from the Gulf to the shores and marshlands in the state. This massive project will place numerous individuals in jobs on dredging vessels, who will be tasked with removing the sand, storing it, and replacing it in areas where it is considered advantageous for stopping the oil. Vessels equipped for this activity, namely the “hopper dredge,” are extremely powerful machines. In addition to their capacity to transport massive quantities of sand, they have the capacity to cause harm to their operators, and other individuals who are situated in waterways near the vessel. The Army Corps of Engineer’s list of hazards related to the hopper dredge is significant, describing how smaller boats could be capsized by the dredge’s wake, and how the water pressure the dredge emits could force a person underwater, causing serious injury or death. In light of the safety concerns surrounding these dredges, there are many standard procedures that are required of the companies who run these vessels to ensure, if nothing else, the workers’ well being. The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA)provides a meticulous checklist for one of the dredge vessels that is intended to make dredge operations foolproof, in terms of safety. Among the inspections, logs and general activities that are detailed are general safety procedures, such as what to do in case of a medical emergency, and maintaining an appropriate number of personal flotation […]

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Testimony of Tom Galligan Before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on The Risky Business of Big Oil: Have Recent Court Decisions and Liability Caps Encouraged Irresponsible Corporate Behavior?

I. Introduction Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Sessions and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. My name is Tom Galligan and since 2006 it has been my good fortune to serve as the President of Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire where I am also a Professor in the Humanities Department. From 1998-2006, I was the dean of the University of Tennessee College of Law where I also held a distinguished professorship. From 1986-1998, I was a professor at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center in Baton Rouge, where I also held an endowed professorship. From 1996-1998, I also served as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Judicial College. At both Tennessee and LSU, I taught and wrote about torts and maritime law. I am the author or co-author of several books and many articles on tort law and punitive damages. Along with Frank Maraist, I am the author of three books on maritime law, one of which is and another of which will soon be co-authored by Catherine Maraist. I have also written law review articles on various aspects of maritime law and given countless speeches on torts and maritime law; and I continue to speak and write on those subjects. It is an honor to appear before you today. The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has already resulted in death, injury, environmental devastation, and economic loss to individuals, businesses, and governmental entities. Additional damage is occurring every day; […]

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Louisiana DHH Releases Oil Spill-Related Exposure Information

Seventy-one cases of oil spill-related illnesses have been reported to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to date, according to a report released today. Fifty of those involved workers on oil rigs or those involved in the oil spill clean-up efforts, while 21 illnesses were reported by the general public. Epidemiologists and scientists with DHH continue to work closely with other state, regional and local officials, as well as hospitals, clinics and mobile health units to monitor in the impacts of oil and dispersants on Louisiana residents, workers and volunteers along the coast. The Department has put out calls for doctors and medical facilities to report all illnesses and injuries related to the oil spill for an ongoing database. Each exposure-related complaint is followed up on by Office of Public Health staff. Worker Illnesses Most workers who reported exposure-related illnesses experienced symptoms such as throat irritation, cough, shortness of breath, eye irritation, nausea, chest pain and headaches. Eight workers were hospitalized. These hospitalizations averaged one day. Illness Reported by General Public Most of the illnesses reported by the general public have been related to odors from the oil spill. Officials have urged those who may be sensitive to the odors to stay indoors with doors and windows closed, and to run their air conditioning. Residents with pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or other respiratory illness, should consider contacting their physician if they feel symptomatic. Breakdown of Illness by Category Of the workers who reported illnesses, 48 were […]

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Issues of Human Health Associated With the Deepwater Horizon Crude Oil Spill

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a field hearing entitled “Local Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” on Monday, June 7, 2010, in Chalmette, Louisiana. The hearing examined the impact of the oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig site on the Gulf region. At that hearing, Wilma Subra testified on behalf of Subra Company, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper (LMRK) concerning the issues of human health associated with the Deepwater Horizon Crude Oil Spill. The main points of her testimony concerning human health are: The crude oil spill has resulted in human health impacts to residents in the coastal communities and to workers toiling to contain and clean up the oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the coastal wetlands and estuaries. BP’s crude oil spill and ongoing failure to control the source of the spill have resulted in the formation of crude oil aerosols in the air which have moved on shore ahead of the crude oil slick and continues to move on shore. These crude oil aerosols have caused community members along the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to experience odors. In Louisiana, the crude oil aerosols have resulted in health impacts including headaches, nausea, respiratory impacts, irritation to eyes, nose, throat and lungs and asthma attacks and have been experienced by people living along the coastal areas in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes as well as in the New Orleans metropolitan area. These […]

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