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Addressing the Mental Health of Those Impacted by the BP Oil Spill

After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, researchers at Louisiana State University have gathered to study the drilling disaster and the effects it is having on not just the environment but also the community. Professor Matthew Lee teaches sociology at LSU and is also the vice chancellor over the Office of Research and Economic Development and they address the very real concern that the mental health of the communities who were harmed in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill need to be cared for. While there were only 11 workers killed in the accident off of the Gulf Coast, there are still a host of people in the coastal communities who are dealing with the disaster, even years after the spill.

Lee addresses the very real fact that the families living in the coastal communities have had family members for generations who are a part of the back breaking oil and gas industry; and they themselves are continually at risk of oil spills and hurricanes as well. These families don't have it easy, and after years of studying and documentation, Lee and his colleagues have concluded that the mental stress these communities are experiencing has been immense since the disaster. Their studies were conducted in three parts: during the spill and cleanup season, several months after the spill was capped, and one year post spill; and they arrived to the conclusion that the people are still suffering as a result. Sure, the government may have finally decided that BP will need to pay $4 billion for clean up after the disaster, but how much of that will really go directly to helping the people? It is hard to say.

These researchers discovered that one year after the disaster, the people living on the coast actually had increased stressed levels rather than showing improvement; and a large contributor was the economic status of their community. Oil and gas industry workers are not the only people who lived in the coastal areas, there is also a big fishing community and after the spill their source of income was greatly affected as a large population of the fish was killed by the contamination. Out of 48 states, Louisiana is the largest producer of fish, bringing in a net value of $3 billion per year, and is also the number one producer of domestic oil valuing $70 billion per year as well. So, when these industries are affected by horrifying disasters, more than the injured workers need to be considered; the families in the area who were affected need to be taken into account as well. Sadly, the effects of the disaster will not disappear overnight, and today these people are emotionally hurting as the weight of their trials are much to handle.

Researchers from LSU bring up the very real truth that while the coastal communities are extremely affected by the technological disasters that happen, they are not all harmed in the same way. It is because of this that relief and recovery programs need to be flexible with how they help the communities. Lee argues that the people on the Louisiana shores need serious help, and those with the resources to offer aid need to take a very close look at exactly what these people need in order to actually make a difference.

If you have been a victim of disaster in Louisiana, or any other coastal state, contact an experienced oil rig explosion attorney at Arnold & Itkin, for the skilled legal representative you deserve fighting for you! We understand that these accidents are often caused by the negligence of the big corporations, and we want to help you pursue justice and financial compensation for your pain and suffering.

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