A commercial diver who spent months working in the Gulf of Mexico for a number of clients is suing BP and NALCO Co., maker of the Corexit oil dispersants used during the 2010 oil spill, for extensive and severe injuries his doctors blame on exposure to the oil and toxic chemicals.
Before his exposure to BP’s oil spill and oil dispersant chemicals, plaintiff David Hogan was a “very gregarious” and “healthy” man, who climbed the 14,400-foot-high Mount Ranier in Washington May 2010. All of that changed, however, during a 5-month diving stint in the Gulf of Mexico, where Mr. Hogan and his team came into daily contact with toxic oil and dispersants.
BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20,2010, killing 11 workers and releasing over 200 million gallons of crude oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico. As the spill continued unabated throughout most of the summer, BP workers and contractors sprayed and injected the oil with nearly 2 million gallons of chemical oil dispersants made by NALCO. The sheer volume of Corexit dispersants used on the BP oil spill was unprecedented for a single spill.
Between the beginning of June and end of November, 2010, Mr. Hogan and his team of divers performed commercial diving work in the Gulf of Mexico under contract for a number of commercial interests, including Specialty Offshore, ConocoPhillips, Xplore Oil, and Stuyvesant Dredging.
According to his complaint, “On every one of those dives during that period of time, David Hogan dove into waters that were contaminated with both the crude oil and the Corexit® dispersants.” Mr. Hogan says that neither ConocoPhillips nor Specialty Offshore shared any information about Corexit dispersants with him and his crew.
Alarmed by the unusual appearance of the oil in the water and the effects it was having on the dive suits, Mr. Hogan went to great lengths to determine what health and safety risks he and his team faced. Ultimately, a “health and safety” representative from BP flew via helicopter to the dive site and assured Mr. Hogan “there was absolutely nothing harmful or hazardous to their safety or health in the oil, in the water, or whatever was causing the oil to sink so deep beneath the surface.”
The same representative also told the divers that wearing haz-mat dive gear was unnecessary because “there was absolutely nothing in the oil or anything mixed with the oil that was hazardous or of any concern,” the lawsuit alleges.
Because of those assurances, when Mr. Hogan and other members of his diving crew began to get sick, they didn’t immediately blame their deteriorating health on their exposure to the oil and dispersants. “However, as Mr. Hogan’s health problems progressed and did not abate, he ultimately contacted a physician in Louisiana who had been treating hundreds of patients who had come into contact with the oil and Corexit dispersants,” the complaint states.
“By August, 2011, medical testing and medical evaluation by one or more physicians familiar with exposure to the oil spill and, particularly, exposure to the Corexit dispersants, led physicians to inform Mr. Hogan that his progressing medical problems were caused by the contact with the oil spill during his diving operations between June and November, 2010,” according to the lawsuit.
“Through additional testing and medical evaluation, by November 16, 2011, Mr. Hogan had been diagnosed as suffering from neurotoxicity ‘related to chronic and cumulative exposure to chemical and heavy metals associated with the Gulf oil spill and dispersant,'” the lawsuit states.
Today, Mr. Hogan suffers from myriad health problems attributed to his exposure to the oil spill and the Corexit dispersants used to break it down. Mr. Hogan lost 60 pounds and can no longer walk, he has lost vision in one eye and continues to lose sight in the other eye, and he suffers from seizures, cognitive problems, vertigo, and other progressing health issues.
Sadly, two members of his diving crew who were also allegedly sickened from their exposure to the oil and dispersants have since committed suicide.
Mr. Hogan and his wife filed the lawsuit in a Harris County, Texas court. Defendants named in the suit are British Petroleum Exploration & Production Inc.; BP America Inc.; BP America Production Company; BP Products North America Inc.; BP plc; Halliburton Energy Services Inc.; Transocean Ltd.; Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc.; Transocean Deepwater Inc.; Transocean Holdings LLC; NALCO Company; Specialty Offshore Inc.; ConocoPhillps; Xplore Oil & Gas LLC; Stuyvesant Dredging Company; and Stuyvesant Dredging Inc.