Attorney Stuart H. Smith, representing the United Commercial Fishermen's Association, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, public and private entities, and citizens harmed by the BP oil catastrophe, today issued this statement:
"Independent water and seafood testing and analyses by Gulf Oil Disaster Recovery experts reveal that highly toxic chemicals remain in the water and food chain. These toxins pose a significant risk to marine reproduction and human consumption of Gulf seafood.
"The greatest concern is the presence of chemicals known as PAHs (or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons), which have carcinogenic properties. Our studies have shown that PAHs are present in shrimp from the impacted Gulf areas of the spill at 10 times the levels found in shrimp from inland, low-impacted areas.
"Further, BP's use of dispersants at 5000 feet below the sea surface caused PAHs and other toxic substances to remain in the seawater. This means biodegradation of the toxins in crude oil is greatly reduced. It could be at least 8 months before the toxic soup we are seeing in the Gulf experiences significant biodegradation, due to low temperatures, lack of sunlight, and other factors.
"Moreover, we have major concerns about FDA disclosures regarding seafood safety. The decisions to re-open commercial fishing in selected off-shore areas affects thousands of seafood consumers of shrimp in Louisiana and Mississippi. However, these decisions were based upon as few as a single shrimp sample from Louisiana offshore waters, and two shrimp samples from Mississippi offshore waters (rendered as composites from 12 shrimp), with detectable PAH levels present in all shrimp samples.
"We vigorously refute FDA claims that they have performed sufficient sampling to declare shrimp from this area safe for consumption. The result may have been for state authorities to issue premature shrimp harvesting area re-openings, based on flawed FDA recommendations. Given the potential public health issues at stake, this is a major cause for concern.
"Therefore, I am releasing several statements by toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer, as well as supporting material, which address these issues in greater detail. Official documents from FDA confirm that the recommendations to re-open selected areas for commercial harvesting were based on insufficient samples for state authorities to render responsible decisions. A thorough review of all available FDA test results to date further confirm our findings."