From early on in BP’s oil disaster, President Obama and the rest of the government’s command team have insisted that it is the government, not BP, that is calling the shots on all aspects of the disaster. While that’s always been a questionable claim, given BP’s tight grip on pretty much everything from cleanup, hiring, PR, and media, we have yet another example that shows BP with its hands on the reins.
Elana Schor, who’s been doing yeoman’s work on reporting about data in the BP oil disaster, published a new piece with Greenwire and the New York Times in which she reveals that OSHA and NIOSH have access to worker health data from BP and its coverup firm, CTEH, but are so far refusing to release the data.
“I don’t want to defend [BP's] charts,” OSHA chief David Michaels said in an interview. “We understand the concerns about measurements made by BP’s contractors, and so we therefore look at our own measurements and other agencies’ measurements. … At this point, we feel fairly confident that we’ve made the right protective decisions.”
OSHA’s analysis of raw BP testing data concluded that among the 20 percent of sampled workers exposed to 2-butoxyethanol, “the highest level measured was 0.8 ppm, and 90% of these were 0.2 ppm or less,” according to a statement from the agency. “Every measurement was well below the NIOSH recommended limit of 5.0 ppm.” [...]
Asked why OSHA and NIOSH — which have access to results to daily worker monitoring performed by private BP contractors — do not release those results to independent scientists and Gulf Coast advocates such as Rolfes, Michaels said his agency continues to lean on the embattled oil company.
“If they don’t [release worker testing data], we’ll consider releasing it ourselves,” Michaels said. “We’re doing the best we can and doing a tremendous amount of sampling. We’re in the field, we’re on the boats. If people see specific information they think is not included, we’ll try to get it to them.”
Not acceptable. If the federal government is truly in charge of this disaster, there should be no “leaning” required. BP and CTEH should release every bit of data to OSHA and NIOSH, who should make it available in as close to real time as possible on their websites. There are experts from organizations and online who can check this data, in addition to the sampling performed by the agencies. It’s in the best interest of the public and recovery workers to have this data released.
Remember, the data in question are that collected by notorious corporate disaster coverup firm CTEH. Earlier versions of this data revealed toxic dispersants in the air around 20% of offshore cleanup workers, and 15% of onshore workers.
This is a life and death matter for BP’s recovery workers. OSHA and NIOSH need to release this data in real time, as soon as possible.