Lawmakers rap BP's choice of health contractor

BP’s decision to hire a controversial contractor to monitor the health of oil spill cleanup workers puts the bottom line ahead of public safety, two Democratic lawmakers said today.
At issue is BP’s choice of the Arkansas-based Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, or CTEH, as one contractor tasked with monitoring environmental conditions, air quality and the health of workers skimming oil and deploying booms along the Gulf Coast.
A recent Greenwire article highlighted the company’s involvement in cleanup of other environmental disasters, including the coal ash spill in Tennessee two years ago and a refinery spill in Chalmette, La. According to the piece, CTEH also has analyzed the health conditions of people living near Ecuadorian rain forests and has rejected assertions that some claimed medical conditions are related to chemical exposures from Texaco oil fields.
Reps. Lois Capps, D-Calif., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., said BP’s decision to hire CTEH was like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.
“BP needs to fire CTEH and hire a firm without such a questionable track record,” Capps said.
“CTEH has a troubling record of failing to put public health first and should not be charged with this critical work,” Welch said. “The men and women of the Gulf Coast who are working hard to clean up the devastating damage of the Deepwater Horizon spill deserve better than substandard health monitoring.”
The two asked BP to fire CTEH in a letter to Tony Hayward, the CEO of the London-based oil giant. Instead, BP should “enlist an independent, well-respected toxicology center to take over this role” monitoring health issues in the Gulf. The pair also wants toxicology and testing data supplied to the federal government for independent verification and analysis.
A copy of the lawmakers’ letter is available after the jump.