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Oil spills a real headache
Location: Queen Beach, La Brea. Event: Toxic oil spill.
Me: “I was on this beach for two hours yesterday, and I got a massive headache and nausea from the smell. You’ve been surrounded by this oil spill for five days; how do you deal with the physical effects?” Local resident and fisherman: “Boss, I’ve been working the sea for 31 years. Each time I go out there (points to sea) I’m exposed to this smell. It doesn’t bother me any more.”
Me: “What do you mean by ‘this smell’ out at sea? Do you mean the smell of fumes from your engine?” Local resident and fisherman: “No, from the oilfields, nah. When we fish among the platforms (in the Trinmar offshore oilfield), we are always exposed to fumes from small oil leaks. It’s a normal thing for we.”
Dozens of people worked to contain and clean the spill. Were they experiencing the same symptoms of mild nausea and headaches as me? Health, safety and environment (HSE) workers approached me to warn that I was in a highly toxic area. The short-term effects include headaches and nausea, as I experienced, but also vomiting, confusion, dizziness, faintness, respiratory problems, sore throat and burning eyes.
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