On April 20, 2010, a series of events unfolded on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon (hereinafter “Deepwater Horizon”) that ultimately led to its sinking and the release of crude oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These events have been widely covered by the media and include an explosion and subsequent fire, along with the loss of a large number of lives as a result thereof. The sunken oil rig is releasing large amounts of oil which, despite initial estimates by certain Defendants and their representatives, is now reported to be up to 5,000 gallons of crude oil per day that is being pumped into the Gulf waters from the sunken rig. A recent document prepared by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this current estimate could grow to an amount 10 times that much, which could be 2.1 million gallons a day. A massive effort has been undertaken to contain and control the spilling oil. Said efforts are being coordinated by the United States Coast Guard Unit D8 out of New Orleans, Louisiana under the command of Rear Admiral Mary Landry. Despite this mobilization and the coordinated private/public efforts, the petroleum contamination has not been stopped but instead has continued to spread throughout the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The oil slick consists of crude oil. Crude oil is a naturally occurring oil generated by geological and geochemical processes. It is composed primarily of hydrocarbons along with small amounts of a number of other elements and chemicals including nickel and chromium. One type of hydrocarbon is known as “aromatic” and includes at least one benzene ring. Benzene is a well-studied and toxic compound. Another component of crude oil is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which includes two benzene rings. The exact composition of any crude oil and the levels of benzene, PAHs, and other compounds will vary depending on the source of the oil. . The oil contamination is dangerous. There are several hundred individual hydrocarbon chemicals defined as petroleum-based and each petroleum product has its own mix of constituents. Some of these constituents include, but are not limited to the following: benzene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, 13,5-trimethylbenzene, isopropylbenzene, cyclohexane, nButylbenzene, npropoylbenzene, p-isopropyltoulene, sec-butlybenzene, toluene, hexane, acenaphthene, acennaphthylene, anthracene, benzo(ghi)pyrilene, fluoranthene, fluorine, naphthalene, 1-Me-Naphthalene, 2-Me-Naphthalene, phenanthrene, pyrene, benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[e]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, chrysene, ideno(1,2,3-c-d)pyrene, and 5-Me-chrysene], arsenic, nickel and vanadium. Exposure to oil, petroleum products, petroleum constituents, petroleum by-products, and/or toxic and hazardous substances and wastes pose a threat to human health and the environment. The health effects associated with petroleum are caused by its associated hydrocarbon mixtures. Exposure to soil, vapors and water containing petroleum contamination can cause multiple health complications and illnesses such as respiratory conditions and illnesses, gastrointestinal conditions and illnesses, dermatological conditions and illnesses, neurological conditions and illnesses, immunological conditions and illnesses, and a host of other health complications and illnesses. Sensitivity to these effects can vary greatly from one person to the next, with children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory problems most affected. Long-term exposures pose a risk of cancer and damage to the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, and other organs of the body, as well as immunological and neurological problems and damage to the nervous system. People exposed to petroleum in soil, water and vapors over a period of time may gradually lose their ability to notice the petroleum, which can lead to greater exposures and health problems over time.
The oil contamination has affected the properties of residents and property owners throughout the Gulf Coast, causing the property to lose value, causing the residents and owners to lose the use and enjoyment of their properties, and is likely to result in the contamination of these properties with one or more of these dangerous compounds.
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