“Caustic chemical burns”: Workers pressure wash heavily oiled boats with NO respirators… While using a "toxic" cleaning agent — Valdez Part 2? (PHOTO & VIDEO)


BP cleanup extends beyond area waters, Tri-Parish Times, January 12, 2011:

Source: Coast Guard

The stench of oil lingers near the dry dock station at the C-Port 3 Northern Expansion in Port Fourchon. ...

Men and women, safely entrenched in yellow jump suits taped snuggly to steel toe boots and rubber gloves, with their eyes visible behind clear visors attached to hard hats and their hands gripping a powerful hose, blasted the inside and outside of more than 200 vessels. ...

Throughout the seven-month clean up, C-Port 3 officials said minor caustic chemical burns were the only blips on their safety record and there were no lost-time or recordable accidents. ...

Read the report here.

What they were cleaning:

  • "[I]nterior cargo departments were also caked with oil residue..."
  • "What ended up happening is that oil got on the deck [of the skimmers] and that scale acted like a sponge. The only way to get that cleaned, we beat it. We beat it with hammers and chipped the oil away."
  • "[T]he tanks... were plagued by oil residue and in some cases hydrogen sulfide..."

How they were cleaning:

  • "Decon protocol allowed only one cleaning agent to be used above water. PES-51... [a] hydrocarbon cleaner with toxic qualities"
  • "'As the [PES-51] would dissolve the oil, we would let it sit there for a couple of minutes and then we would pressure wash it at high pressure, scrub it and let the runoff run into the water and catch it with absorbent pads and booms,' [Joel Barrios, a site manager for C-Port 3 Northern Expansion decontamination] said."

10 years later, front-line spill workers link physical ailments to cleanup work, Anchorage Daily News, May 13, 1999:

"They told us we could eat that stuff on our pancakes," said Ron Smith of Soldotna, who blames his headaches, nausea and memory loss on work he did that summer. He just had a pre-cancerous tumor removed from his lower intestine.

After a decade battling odd illnesses, some spill workers have concluded Exxon's health claims were wrong, and two dozen have filed suit. They think the oil they cleaned up, the oil mist they breathed, and the chemical cleaners they handled made them sick and may be slowly killing them.

Exxon Valdez Cleanup (Source: NOAA)

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