Thursday, May 27, 2010
The first phase of the hearing kicked off with a review of GAO’s recent investigation into deceptive supplement marketing practices provided by Gregory D. Kutz, managing director of the Forensic Audits and Special Investigations, GAO. Kutz explained how, repsonding to a request from Sen. Kohl to look into supplement marketing concerns, GAO undertook a two-part investigation. First it engaged (visited or called) 22 storefront and mail order retailers in DC and Florida, posing as elderly customers. He reported disease claims found and misleading advice was given both in product literature and in retailer dialogue. He played a video of some such communications with retailers, and showed the panel two products with illegal claims on the labels.
Next, GAO purchased 40 single-herb supplements from manufacturers and had them tested by an independent lab recommended by FDA. They found trace amounts of various heavy metals in 37 of the products, but Kutz reported upon referring them to FDA and FTC, neither agency found the levels of concern relative to the public’s health and safety. However, Kutz said GAO was concerned that many retailers and marketers were aggressively marketing supplements, often using disease claims or suggesting customers swap their meds for supplements.
For the rest of the detailed report, go here, the source.
Image by size8jeans via FlickrAlli and Xenical have been claimed to be linked to a rare form of liver injury says
Worldwide, there have been only 13 cases among the 40 million people who have used the products. Two eople died and three others required liver transplants.
Alli and Xenical contain the weight loss drug orlistat. Xenical, made by Roche's Genentech, contains 120 milligrams of orlistat and is available only by prescription. Alli, from GlaxoSmithKline, contains 60 milligrams of orlistat and is available over the counter.
In 2009, the FDA announced it was reviewing 32 reports of liver injury in people taking Alli or Xenical. That review has now identified 13 cases, one in the U.S., of liver death or liver failure.
According to the FDA
The following factors make confirming a cause-and-effect relationship between orlistat and severe liver injury difficult:
* One U.S. case with Alli and 12 foreign cases with Xenical reported between April 1999 and August 2009 out of an estimated 40 million people worldwide who have used Xenical or Alli.
* Some patients in the reported cases also used other drugs or had other conditions that may have contributed to the development of severe liver injury.
* Severe liver injury can occur in people not taking drugs and without a distinct cause.
At this time, a cause and effect relationship of severe liver injury with orlistat use has not been established. Because of the seriousness of severe liver injury, FDA has added information about reported cases of severe liver injury to the label of Xenical and Alli to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of liver injury and the need to see a physician promptly should they occur. The agency is also working with the manufacturer of Alli to ensure that consumers can understand this new warning.
The labels for Alli and Xenical will now carry warnings about the possible risk of liver injury.
Symptoms of liver injury include:
* Loss of appetite
* Yellow eyes or skin
* Dark urine
* Light-colored stools
People concerned about the possibility of liver injury should consult a doctor.
Monday, May 24, 2010
The agency cited the facility for not following quality controls and for not maintaining adequate lab facilities for the testing and approval of components and drug products. Source.
There are no written procedures for production and process controls designed to assure that the drug products have the identity, strength, quality, and purity they purport or are represented to possess.
Written production and process control procedures are not followed in the execution of production and process control function.
Read the rest here
High doses of Viagra have been shown to damage hearing in mice, but until now only a few anecdotal cases had been described in humans.
The study, based on a national sample of American men over 40, found that slightly more than one in six of those who did not take Viagra-like drugs -- for instance, Eli Lilly's Cialis -- were deaf or hard of hearing.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Image by zphone via FlickrFederal law allows people to make a claim now under the Oil Pollution Act. What are the particulars?
What Claims May Be Submitted?
Claims can be submitted for a number of problems associated with either the oil spill or even the substantial threat of discharge of oil. Possible claims include
* Removal Costs
* Real or Personal Property Damage
* Loss Profits and Earning Capacity
* Loss of Government Revenue
* Costs of Increased Public Services
* Natural Resource Damage
These are just some of the ways individuals may be able to be compensated for this disaster as a variety of other reasons do exist.
Who Can Make a Claim for Damage from the Oil Spill?
A claimant could be
* An individual
* A corporation, partnership, or association
* States, municipalities, and political subdivisions of States.
Do You Qualify to Submit an Oil Spill Claim?
To qualify to submit an Oil Spill claim, these factors are to be met
* The incident/events surrounding the spill must have occurred on or after August 18, 1990. EVEN THE THREAT OF THE SPILL GIVES YOU A RIGHT TO FILE A CLAIM.
* The incident involved discharge, or substantial threat of discharge, or oil.
* The discharge or substantial threat of a discharge was into or upon the navigable water or the U.S. and its shorelines
What is the Claim Format for an Oil Spill Claim under OPA?
There is no required format for an Oil Spill Claim under the Oil Protection Act. However, you must support your claim with evidence, information, and documentation. Claims must be made in writing, and must follow include the following information:
* Type and amount of damages for each type of claim
* Total amount claimed
* Your full name, street and mailing address, and telephone numbers for your home and business
* Time, date and geographic location of the oil spill, identification of the navigable water impacted; and an explanation of how the oil impacted the water
* Identify the vessel, facility, or person causing or suspected of causing the spill, if possible, and include an explanation of why you suspect the vessel, facility, or person to have cause the spill.
* A general description of the impact of the spill, including the removal costs or damages claimed by category
* Explanation of how the damage happened, the location, and the date and time (this may/may not be the same as the location, date, or time of the spill)
* Descriptions of actions taken to minimize or avoid damages
* Costs of assessing the damage
* Name, street and mailing address, and telephone numbers of any witnesses and a brief description of what the witness knows
* Copies of any written communications and content of any verbal communications with the RP, including any claims submitted to the RP
* Information on any attempts to submit claims to the person or company responsible for the oil pollution
* Any compensation you have received for removal costs or damages from the spill
* Statement that no action has been taken in court or, if action has been taken, the status of the pending court case
* Certification statement of the accuracy of the claim to the best of your knowledge and belief
* Your signature and, if applicable, your legal representative's signature.
Talk to us if you are considering making a claim.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Image via WikipediaManufacturing and sale of counterfeit drugs is on the increase in both rich as well as poor countries with majority of the unwary people buying these drugs over the internet.
Margaret Hamburg, head of the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) stated that substandard and fake versions of medicines “put people at risk of harm from medical products that may contain too much, too little, or the wrong active ingredient and/or contain toxic ingredients.”
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The Food and Drug Administration, in an April 23 letter, objected to statements made on a company website about the Epicor LP Cardiac Ablation System and the Epicor UltraCinch LP Ablation Device.
The newspaper sent 50 skin-lightening creams to a certified lab for testing, most of them bought in Chicago stores and a few ordered online. Six were found to contain amounts of mercury banned by federal law.
Of those, five had more than 6,000 parts per million — enough to potentially cause kidney damage over time, according to a medical expert.
The Food and Drug Administration banned mercury in skin-bleaching or lightening products in 1990, but the agency rarely tests the products to see if consumers are at risk. The Chicago Tribune's tests — among only a handful ever conducted — show that tainted products are still readily available.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Image by neofedex via FlickrGlaxoSmithKline Plc agreed to pay about $60 million in the first settlements of lawsuits alleging the company’s Avandia diabetes drug causes heart attacks and strokes in some users.
Avandia has been in the spotlight recently, following reports from various studies linking the drug to cardiovascular complications. The FDA estimates that Avandia treatment caused at least 83,000 heart attacks from 1999 to 2007, and clinical studies have shown that Avandia increases the risk of heart attack by 43 percent and can double the risk of heart failure after only one year of treatment.
At least 13,000 Avandia lawsuits have been filed nationwide, with plaintiffs accusing GlaxoSmithKline of failing to adequately warn patients about the serious risks of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, bone fractures, vision loss, and death associated with the medication.
The problem seems to be that the Benadryl brand is also used on liquid allergy products meant to be swallowed, confusing a few consumers.
Perhaps the use of the word "dummy" on the product?
"For some time now we've suspected there might be an association between exposure to dopamine agonists and the development of impulse control problems in patients," said Dr. Daniel Weintraub of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, whose study appears in the Archives of Neurology. Source.
Context An association between dopamine-replacement therapies and impulse control disorders (ICDs) in Parkinson disease (PD) has been suggested in preliminary studies.
Objectives To ascertain point prevalence estimates of 4 ICDs in PD and examine their associations with dopamine-replacement therapies and other clinical characteristics.
Design Cross-sectional study using an a priori established sampling procedure for subject recruitment and raters blinded to PD medication status.
Patients Three thousand ninety patients with treated idiopathic PD receiving routine clinical care at 46 movement disorder centers in the United States and Canada.
Main Outcome Measures The Massachusetts Gambling Screen score for current problem/pathological gambling, the Minnesota Impulsive Disorders Interview score for compulsive sexual behavior and buying, and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders research criteria for binge-eating disorder.
Results An ICD was identified in 13.6% of patients (gambling in 5.0%, compulsive sexual behavior in 3.5%, compulsive buying in 5.7%, and binge-eating disorder in 4.3%), and 3.9% had 2 or more ICDs. Impulse control disorders were more common in patients treated with a dopamine agonist than in patients not taking a dopamine agonist (17.1% vs 6.9%; odds ratio [OR], 2.72; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.08-3.54; P < .001). Impulse control disorder frequency was similar for pramipexole and ropinirole (17.7% vs 15.5%; OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.94-1.57; P = .14). Additional variables independently associated with ICDs were levodopa use, living in the United States, younger age, being unmarried, current cigarette smoking, and a family history of gambling problems. Conclusions Dopamine agonist treatment in PD is associated with 2- to 3.5-fold increased odds of having an ICD. This association represents a drug class relationship across ICDs. The association of other demographic and clinical variables with ICDs suggests a complex relationship that requires additional investigation to optimize prevention and treatment strategies. Source here.
Image by SkyTruth via FlickrFrom the WSJ and Reuters:
The chairman of a congressional subcommittee said on Wednesday it uncovered significant problems with the device that was supposed to cut the oil flow after BP's (BP.L) oil rig exploded, creating a massive unchecked spill.
Representative Bart Stupak, head of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said the rig's underwater blowout preventer had a leak in its hydraulic system and the device was not powerful enough to cut through joints to seal the drill pipe.
He said the panel also discovered the blowout preventer had been modified, which made it difficult to operate after the accident. Stupak also said the device's emergency backup controls may have failed because the explosion that destroyed the rig also disabled communications, preventing workers from sending signals to the underwater device
Monday, May 10, 2010
An employer's liability insurer's actions neither caused the damages claimed by an insured nor resulted in exposure of the insured to liability in excess of the policy limits of three policies issued to the insured, the Florida Supreme Court held May 6, answering a rephrased certified question from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in the negative in finding that a cause of action for third-party bad faith against the insurer cannot be maintained (Source)
Image by DavidErickson via FlickrBP wants more than 70 lawsuits over the Gulf oil spill consolidated before a federal judge in Houston.
The oil giant is asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to have U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes to hear pretrial matters for all the cases.
Potential class-action lawsuits have been filed in every Gulf Coast state. Plaintiffs include commercial fishermen, business interests, property owners and others.
For more go here.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Image via CrunchBaseGood work by Jim Edwards:
The FDA did issue a recall for Yaz back in November 2009. The reason: Bayer had reported the product was “within specification” when in fact it wasn’t — the company had taken a number of measures and averaged them together to get the number it needed.
It involved specifications for the dosage of drospirenone in the pill, which is the new ingredient that the lawsuits allege is more dangerous than the traditional recipe.
From the FDA site:
1) YAZ (Drospirenone & Ethinyl Estradiol); Rx only; 3.0 mg drospirenone &0.02 mg ethinyl estradiol; 3 x 28 tablets- blister packages 24 active and 4 placebo, NDC 50419-405-03. Recall # D-046-2010;
2) Ocella (drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol tablets) 3 mg/0.3 mg, Rx only;This package contains one blister of 28 tablets: 21 yellow tablets, containing 3 mg of drospirenone and 0.3 mg of ethinyl estradiol; and seven white inert tablets', NDC 0555-9131-767. Recall # D-047-2010
1) Lot 91605A, Exp 12/2013;
2) Lot number 84080A, Exp 12/2011; lot number 84081A, Exp. 12.2011
Recalling Firm: Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Wayne, NJ, by letters on November 6, 2009.
Manufacturer: Schering Gmbh Und Co. Produktio, Weimar, Germany. Firm initiated recall is ongoing.
CGMP Deviations:Out of Specification analytical value for chemical assays of drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol was averaged with another analytical value to provide a reported result that was within specification.
VOLUME OF PRODUCT IN COMMERCE
1) 32,856 boxes (3 blister packages/box);
2) 122,208 boxes (3 blister packages/box)
Image via WikipediaFood and Drug Administration inspectors found in April that McNeil Consumer Healthcare, which has voluntarily recalled certain lots of its children's and infants' Tylenol products, knowingly used bacteria-contaminated materials to make them, a report posted Tuesday by the agency says.
Though the known risk to consumers "is remote," the FDA's Deborah Autor said, "we have theoretical concerns" about the safety of the recalled products.
The FDA has said the public should not be concerned about seafood safety at this time. Last week, Louisiana authorities opened some of the state’s shrimping zones ahead of the regular season to allow harvesting of shrimp before the oil spill reached the area. However, some of those zones have since been closed. Molluscan shellfish beds in some areas have also been closed, the FDA said.
Executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Board Ewell Smith said in a statement: “We support NOAA’s precautionary closure of the affected area so that the American consumer has confidence that the seafood they eat is safe. It is also very important to underscore the fact that this closure is only the affected area of the Gulf of Mexico, not the entire Gulf. The state waters of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River are still open and the seafood coming from that area is safe. That portion of waters represents about 77 percent of Louisiana seafood production of a 2.4 billion dollar economic impact to the state
Image by nasa1fan/MSFC via FlickrNot good this weekend:
In Louisiana, truckloads of sand were being delivered and put in sandbags to be dropped by National Guard helicopters along Fourchon Beach, which is southwest of New Orleans. It's one of the few beaches along the Louisiana coast, with about two miles of public sand and another seven miles that is privately owned.
Officials declared a state of emergency and closed the beach until further notice.
Oil estimate now greater: It has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well at about 210,000 gallons per day.
Booms have been put out to protect estuaries, marshlands and coastlines, from west of the Mississippi River to points as far east as Panama City, Fla.
Friday, May 07, 2010
The plaintiff, Louise Maley, an Indiana woman who used Fosamax for nearly eight years, claimed that she suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw -- a form of bone death associated with Fosamax and similar drugs -- and dental problems as a result of long-term use of the medicine.
The New York jury deliberated for only about half an hour before returning unanimous verdict in Merck's favor by finding that the plaintiff did not suffer from osteonecrosis of the jaw as of March 31 2004.
The plaintiff had multiple medical conditions that cause people to develop the jaw and dental problems she claims she has, regardless of whether they were taking Fosamax," Merck attorney Christy Jones said in a statement.
One of the Plaintiff's lawyers was tim O'Brien, who is no 0-2 in these cases, with the first case resulting in a mistrial.
Image via CrunchBaseTwo drug companies must pay more than $5 million after a jury found them liable in the first civil trial stemming from Southern Nevada's hepatitis C outbreak.
After deliberating for three days, the jury ruled that Teva Parenteral Medicine and Baxter Healthcare Services, which made and sold the sedative propofol, failed to label drug vials with appropriate warnings and should not have provided large vials of the anesthetic to endoscopy centers.
Local health officials said the outbreak was caused by nurse anesthetists reusing vials among patients after the vials had become contaminated by the nurses reusing syringes on the same patient.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Image via WikipediaFollowing Toyota's recall of its faulty models, which heavily affected the American market, the US government is considering plans to introduce black box recorders to all new cars and lorries.
The US House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee has put forward a draft legislation that would see black boxes - similar to those on aeroplanes - being used to determine the cause of accidents.
Releasing the draft, Energy and Commerce chairman Henry Waxman said that it is aimed at improving vehicle safety and strengthening the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ability to more effectively investigate complicated safety problems.
The draft also suggests the removal of a limit on the civil penalty a manufacturer could face over a fault and to enable the NHTSA to order an immediate recall in the case of any safety issue.
Plavix, or clopidogrel, is sold as a brand by Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb and is the world's second biggest-selling medicine, with worldwide sales of more than $9 billion a year.
The medicine is off patent in some European markets.
Image by Felipe Skroski via FlickrThe FDA 4-Star Rating System:
The FDA plans to implement include a four-star rating system for UVA protection that would be based on both in vitro and in vivo tests and incorporate a measurement of photostability.
Manufacturers would be required to include the four-star rating on their sunscreen labels and would face new restrictions in what they can and cannot say on labels. For instance, the proposed guidelines would prohibit claims such as "chemical-free," "waterproof," "helps prevent skin damage," or any SPF designation greater than 50.
SPF would no longer stand for "Sun Protection Factor" but, rather, "Sunburn Protection Factor" to clarify its use as a measurement of only UVB, the rays responsible for sunburns but not the premature signs of aging or skin cancer, which is mostly attributed to UVA.
A Food and Drug Administration report released on Tuesday said its inspectors found thick dust and grime covering certain equipment, a hole in the ceiling and duct tape-covered pipes at the Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, facility that made 40 products recalled last Friday.
Inspectors also found raw ingredients contaminated by an unspecified bacteria, a lack of quality control procedures and poor handling of complaints, according to the report dated April 30.
Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/life/health/story.html?id=ffb68e67-cc42-47a4-a289-b4f9b6f6b4a1#ixzz0n3UlgO60
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
div style="width:477px" id="__ss_3965092">Alabama Lawyer Oil Spill Lawsuit
“A fisherman who cannot fish because of the pollution and who entered into a contract to help clean up BP’s mess was asked to forfeit or minimize his right to make a claim for losses related to the explosion and resultant oil spill,” according to Kuykendall.
According to one of the lawyers on his team:
Attorney Jim Garner explained the offensive language in forms which BP required workers to sign that is now “null and void”:
- BP, which is mandated to take 100 percent responsibility for the oil clean-up, demanded that the volunteers IMDEMNIFY IT for any accidents that might occur from the volunteers’ efforts (Art. 13(F));
1.BP had asked that volunteers WAIVE their First Amendment constitutional free speech rights about the volunteer’s participation in the clean-up efforts of the disaster; for example, if a commercial fisherman signed the proposed papers he or she could not then speak to anyone about the disaster or clean-up efforts until BP first “approved” of what the volunteer wanted to say (Art. 22);
2. BP asked to be included on the volunteers’ insurance policies so that if there is damage to a volunteer’s vessel or other injuries, such as to a crew member, BP will be an “additional insured” and the financial responsibility for the damage will rest on the volunteer’s insurance carrier, NOT BP, and
3. BP sought 30 days of notice before any volunteer is allowed to pursue legal claims against BP, and there are no exceptions made for emergencies (Art. 13(I) [sic (G]).
Read the Consent Order here.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Image by Chris Denbow via FlickrFrom: http://blog.nature.org/2010/05/bill-finch-nature-conservancy-oil-spill-alabama-oyster/
BAYOU LA BATRE, ALABAMA, May 2, 2010 — On Saturday morning, barges decked with giant coils of fluorescent yellow and orange booms designed to contain the coming oil spill here bobbed among fading shrimp boats on the Bayou (which is what the Alabama coastal community is called here).
Everyone who comes to the Bayou makes a living off the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. There is no living here without it.
There must be 30 miles of these floating vinyl tubes stacked up at multiple deployment areas all along the Alabama coast. All morning, tugs and a flotilla of smaller boats let off steam, ready to get the goods on the water before high winds drive the slick ashore.
Jeff Dequattro, the Nature Conservancy’s oyster restoration project manager here in Alabama, had pulled off something like a miracle, collecting 3,500 feet of boom and pallets of absorbent material from two or three different states in 24 hours. Just enough, maybe, to intercept the first swells of oil before they coat our newly established oyster reef around Coffee Island. The boom is on board, but the anchors are still in transit — to the wrong destination, we suddenly learn. Jeff rushes off to intercept. We wait as the wind blows harder.
Read the rest at the link above
People left the meeting with some contact sheets, but many wanted more.
“You know I just think there's so many questions they don't have answers for all of them yet, they seem to be doing the best they can with what they have to work with,” says charter and commercial fisherman Skipper Thiery. Most people wanted some idea of how the oil spill was going to affect them and their way of life--something we won't really know until the oil gets here.
From another source:
On Saturday afternoon May 1, as the oil spill continued to work its way onto the northern Gulf Coast, BP held what it had said would be a public information meeting in the south Alabama fishing town of Bayou La Batre. Those in attendance included town leaders, fishermen, local business owners and townspeople, all of whom are certain to be economically damaged by the oil slick now bearing down on the coastline. However, BP converted the public meeting into a public relations and litigation ploy. BP told the fishermen, business owners and local officials present that it will be unnecessary for them to hire their own legal counsel, that if they call a BP 1-800 telephone number and claim total damages for themselves and their businesses of less than $5,000 dollars, then BP would pay a claim of less than $5,000 but the damaged individuals and businesses in Bayou La Batre will be required to sign BP paperwork. If the claim against BP is more than $5,000, BP told the audience they would be required to deal directly with BP's legal department.
Local town leaders took the microphone from the BP representative, and told the townspeople present not to sign BP’s paperwork.
It is astonishing that BP, with its hordes of high-priced lawyers, would tell innocent victims not to obtain legal help for themselves, and that BP would try to lure these victims into dealing directly with BP's legal department.
Image via Wikipedia* HB 23, sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), which would ban Class D drivers -- mostly teenagers -- from talking on cellphones while driving.
* SB 360, which would ban texting by all drivers. Sponsored by Sen. Jack Murphy (R-Cumming), the bill will be known as the Caleb Sorohan Act, named after a Morgan County teenager who died while texting and driving.
The FDA said it was reviewing procedures at McNeil, which appears to be the sole source of the problems. "We are following through with the facility to make certain that everything has been checked," said FDA spokeswoman Elaine Gansz Bobo.
According to McNeil and the FDA, some of the products recalled may have a higher concentration of active ingredient than is specified on the bottle. Others may contain particles, while still others may contain inactive ingredients that do not meet internal testing requirements.
The FDA called the potential for serious medical problems "remote," but it advised consumers to stop using the medicine as a precaution. It said a health care professional should be consulted if a child has recently taken any of the recalled products and is exhibiting unexpected symptoms.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
The attorneys general from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas will meet Sunday in Mobile, Ala.
A statement said the meeting will discuss legal options, strategies, and preparations for the spill that erupted after a drill rig exploded April 20.
Asked if the states may file lawsuits against oil company BP PLC and other firms, a spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum said he is looking at all possibilities.
Lawyers for private plaintiffs including fishermen have filed at least 26 potential class action lawsuits so far for damages from the spill.
TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Attorney General Bill McCollum today issued the following statement on the British Petroleum oil spill approaching Florida’s coastline:
"The British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico presents a clear and present danger to our coastline, our environment, and our economy. With the damaged well leaking as much as 200,000 gallons a day, we must move as rapidly as possible to protect our shores.
“On Sunday, at the invitation of Alabama Attorney General Troy King, I will join the Attorneys General from Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi in Mobile, Alabama to discuss the shared impacts to the Southeast United States and explore legal options. Currently, my office is also working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and other state and federal agencies to ensure we do everything possible to protect our delicate coastal ecosystems and recoup costs to taxpayers.
“This mishap is an unfortunate example of why drilling threatens our state’s most precious resources – our pristine beaches, our vast wetlands, and countless other environmental treasures. Until technology advances, we must continue to be extraordinarily cautious with our consideration of any proposal that would further jeopardize our beaches and our environment for future generations.”
Shrimp fishermen in south Louisiana have traded in their fishing gear for garbage bags and anything else they can use to collect as much of the crude oil now leaking at about 200,000 gallons per day from a collapsed BP rig and posing an increasing threat to their livelihood.
“We’re trying to save our industry at this point,” said Kim Chauvin, fourth generation co-owner of Mariah Jade Shrimp Co. south of Houma.
While environmentalists and ecologists struggle to predict the coastal impact of the slick, which has already come aground on the Mississippi Delta, Chauvin is optimistic that the central and western parts of the state will not be affected.
“There’s no need for alarm in the central and western parts of the state,” she said.
In New Orleans, a team of lawyers from throughout the Gulf Coast has been assembled to prosecute claims for affected commercial fisherman. With the oil just now reaching land, the attorneys said that there is still no way of knowing what kind of monetary impact the oil leak could have on fisherman. But in any case, they’re taking “pre-emptive action.”
On Wednesday, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries opened up an area to shrimp harvesting a couple weeks early in anticipation of damage from the oil slick.
“In consideration of the potential threat to these resources… this special season should provide fisherman with added economic opportunity through harvest and sale of over-wintering white shrimp,” the release says.
The LDWF has been trying to figure put what kind of economic impact the oil leak could have on the state’s seafood industry. It has begun gathering the dockside value of commercial seafood landings with a focus on the the Mississippi Delta area and parts east.
“We identified an area likely to suffer because of the spill,” said Jack Isaacs, an economist with the LDWF.
From 2007 to 2009, the average annual value of shrimp caught in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin was $9.24 million or 7.1 percent of the state’s total commercial seafood landings. In the Mississippi Delta, there was nearly $7.41 million worth of shrimp caught yearly, or 5.68 percent of the state’s total.
There is a total yearly dockside commercial value of seafood at $44.8 million in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and $8.7 million in the Mississippi Delta, and the values do not include any additional value added by wholesalers, processors, packers, distributors, retailers or restaurants, Isaacs said.
Perhaps more worrisome for the seafood industry is the vulnerability of oysters. State research shows that 78 percent of oysters harvested from public reefs in Louisiana are in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin, representing $11.7 million in value. Another 45 percent of oyster coming from private leases in the state are in that same basin, totaling $12.7 million in value.
“The good thing for shrimp and fish is that they can swim away as the slick of oil approaches them,” said Cliff Hall, co-owner of seafood distributor New Orleans Fish House. “Oysters, unfortunately, will not be so lucky, as they are connected to the reefs and cannot move.”
Like Chauvin, Hall is anxiously hoping that winds keep the slick to the east of the Mississippi River delta.
“While it’s not good for the east side of the river, the positive part of this is it’s not affecting west side of river,” Hall said. “We’ll continue to draw from those resources for our restaurants.”•
Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via FlickrI grew up in Florida, and consider the Gulf Coast South my home - from the Bayous of LA, to favorite places like Fairhope, to Seagrove Beach - all in the path of a man made disaster that may be worse than any hurricane.
How to help:
For folks in Mississippi: Please call 1.866.448.5816. If you want to register your desire to help and receive updates, visit Volunteer Mississippi.
If you're in Louisiana: To report oiled or injured wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401.For spill claims: 1-800-440-0858.
For Community and Volunteer Information, please call 1-866-448-5816
Also worth a look is: www.emergency.louisiana.gov.
For Alabama citizens: The Alabama Coastal Foundation at 251-990-6002; the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program at 251-431-6409; or Mobile Baykeeper at 251-433-4229.
For the Coast of Florida: Go to www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org/
Rick is a key founder of a litigation team of Gulf state lawyers that is one of the first to file for damages arising out of the growing oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This suit seeks damages for fishing and other industries as well as property owners impacted by the spill and are the first of many actions to be filed by the group.
Kuykendall has extensive experience litigating environmental damage cases, and has extensive experience litigating against the oil industry. In 2009, he was co-lead counsel against Constellation Energy in an action that resulted in pollution abatement and damages to citizens whose water had been contaminated by chemicals. In major cases against Weyerhauser Paper, Shell, Exxon, Hoechst Celanese, Conoco and others, Kuykendall has demonstrated a no nonsense approach.
" We are witnessing the beginning of what may very well become the largest environmental disaster in the history of the United States. The source of the spill is still spewing upwards of 50 million gallons of oil a day into the spawning grounds of shrimp, snapper and oysters in areas of the Gulf waters. If the spill isn't contained, it will soon threaten critical gulf beaches and marshlands. The impact on individuals and small businesses still recovering from a series of hurricanes is incalculable. The oil industry, like the financial industry, asked the citizens that populate the Gulf coast to trust them with our most valuable resource and they breached that trust. They must be held accountable and I, along with the group of dedicated environmental lawyers, have the skills and resources to do just that. While we all pray for a good ending, the courthouse doors of the Gulf Coast must be opened to protect our citizens and ecosystems."Said Kuykendall.
Kuykendall’s commitment to environmental concerns is evident. He was appointed by the governor of Alabama to a select Commission on the Environment, is an Honorary Member of the Board of Directors of Mobile Bay Keepers and Co-Founder of the Pensacola River Keepers. Combining his concern for the environment with his legal expertise and resources Kuykendall has successfully brought polluters to justice.
Call him at 256-702-5005