At least nine fishermen hired by BP to use their boats to help with oil cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico have been hospitalized with serious heath problems, including one who “busted his skull” after collapsing on a dock.

When asked about this clear pattern of illnesses of workers who come in contact BP’s oil and chemical dispersants, BP CEO Tony Hayward callously  dismissed the health problems as “food poisoning.”

“I’m sure they were genuinely ill, but whether it was anything to do with dispersants and oil, whether it was food poisoning or some other reason for them being ill,” said Hayward.

“You know, food poisoning is clearly a  big issue when you have a concentration of this number of people in temporary camps, temporary accommodation, it’s something we have to be very, very mindful of, continued Hayward. “It’s one of the big issues of keeping the army operating. You know, armies march on their stomachs.”

Bullshit, pure and simple.

Corexit, BP’s preferred petroleum-based chemical “dispersant” used by the company, caused lifelong illnesses when used to break up and clean oil in the Exxon Valdez spill. Now 600,000+ gallons of Corexit has been dumped from the skies by BP since the spill, with a constant spray of Corexit aimed at the oil gushers 5,000 feet below sea level.

Being near the oil last week on the shore of Louisiana was enough to make myself and Ivan Oleander nauseous when the wind was right. These fishermen are boating through thick coats of oil on the open waters – “as thick as peanut butter,” one fisherman told me – with planes dumping dispersants from the sky at the same time.

It’s obvious that this is a toxic stew that would make anyone sick. Throw in the facts that BP tells its hired fishermen that they do not need protective gear because there’s no health risks, and it’s clear BP is ignorant, lying, or worse. Because if you ask Tony Hayward, it’s just food poisoning.