KTS volunteer symptoms + Hazards of Bunker Fuel

From the web:  

“Safer handling of bunker fuel on board (for ships carrying oil)Everyone on board should be fully aware of the fact that heavy fuel oil is carcinogenic and every contact with skin should be avoided. Oil resistant clothing and gloves should always be used in contact with the fuel.”  

 See Bunker Oil articles below based on our own research (thank B.O’rourke). 
– LiquidMinerals article  | Gronkemi article |  Valero On Bunker Fuel  | BP article

A number of folks, from first-hand communication are experiencing headaches, sinus irritation, nausea and more.  So, it probably best to not being exposed too long to the fumes.   For some, symptoms have mostly cleared up after a day or two.  So, in general, avoid direct contact with the oil.  Others suggest masks, heavy gloves (not latex), goggles, sunglasses or other eye protection.  Be careful of rogue waves that might splash you with oily water.   

Zuna Surf Staff Members are researching the topic with experts and KTS has had conversations with local EPA folks, but we welcome more input. 

Note, though, we’ve heard conflicting reports as to what kind of oil this is [bunker fuel C6??] and how dangerous it is for humans, pets, kids, etc. — fumes or direct contact with the oil.  Much of it depends on exposure and type of contact, and more.  If you have compromised immune systems, take bigger precautions!


2 Responses

  1. Here’s a general letter of concern passed on by a yoga/surfer friend of mine. – mlee/zunasurf

    Hi Dana,

    “…. I’ve been reading about the oil spill (horrible, absolutely horrible) and read today that the surf rider foundation is urging it’s members to ignore warnings and go clean up the oil. I know you’re very active with surfing and might have some connection to them.

    Can you please, please, please urge them NOT to do this? That oil is INCREDIBLY toxic. People who come in contact with it face serious, long-term health problems including life-long chemical sensitivities, autoimmune problems, reproductive problems and neurological damage.

    I have chemical sensitivities and the first question my endocrinologist ask me was had I helped with an oil spill (I hadn’t, but was exposed to a similar oil in high concentrations as a child).

    Chemical sensitivities can be absolute hell. Try avoiding all perfume (including people wearing it) and all areas cleaned with normal household chemicals to get a taste of the problem. Most people with bad sensitivities are no longer able to work in a “normal” work environment.

    If people absolutely, against all protection of their health, feel they must be on the beach, take precautions. Wear very thick latex gloves, a tyvek suit to cover your clothes, eye protection, rubber boots that can be disposed (you do not want to track the oil through your house) and I would recommend a disposable respirator (P95 or P99).

    All this, along with the oil, MUST be disposed of as hazardous waste. I can only imagine how frustrated people must be about not being able to help, but risking your future health is not worth it. The pictures of surfer Meghan McNertney rescuing the bird are giving me nightmares…..”

    Take care,
    Kathy M

  2. Kathy,

    The problem is Kathy that the EPA training amounted to one sentence: This stuff is toxic so you should use protective gear and stop the informal efforts to clean up. Meanwhile they were tripping over each others feet to get a hundred or so people on the beach to clea up. How two surfers in the Ocean Beach were able to do more then the combined efforts of federal, state an local officials combined is the real question! And, yes, it is toxic and that’s why we are calling on SIGNAGE and CONTAMINATED WASTE clean up now — neither of which any of these all-wise agencies seemed to be capable of mustering in the 6 days since the spill. There is a lesson here — the government is basically to splintered and bogged down by regulation to get much anything done but they get 99 percent of the resources in situations like this! There are no easy answers but people should know the can come help and help is depserately needed all across the bay and coastal beaches — the degree of contamination varies from specks and clumps to some situtaitons of entire slicks (up in Marin). Here in San Francisco where access is easy the volunteers who organized in a grass root fashion were making great progress with a very efficient “show up with gloves” and help strategy that is not being discouraged to a large degree by the arrival of the EPA and their ideas on this clean up — which amount to that you have to have a four hours OSHA certification during which very little is learned that applies. Again, it’s toxic and you should be careful not to have skin contact or breath the vapors! Meanwhile days are passing and efforts are dramtically and dangerously undermanned and under equipt! Our beaches are still sopping with toxic fuel-grade oil and the fed think a few hundred volunteers are going to make the difference. Thousands are needed and all these agencies should stop fumbling and call for several thousand emergency workers to immediately deploy before really it’s too late as the ocean continues to disperse the oil — read “window of opportunity”! And, by the way, I wore closed toe sandals on day on and have burns between my toes from the stuff. Meanwhile people had children on the beach with no shoes on because there was NO signage warning them that this stuff is highly toxic and has carcinige not to mention a host of other toxic compents. WEAR GLOVES and EYE AND FOOT PROTECTION if you do go out — and dispose of any soiled gear or clothing and do not bring it in your home where it could contaminent floors, washing machines, etc.

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