When complaints related to BP’s Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program began to surface, most focused on participants who were not paid for standby time or whose boats were allegedly not repaired or adequately decontaminated. But an increasing number of VOO participants are now saying they suffer health problems related to exposure to oil and chemical dispersants in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. A June 23 article in the Montgomery Advertiser detailed the stories of three Alabama residents who developed a multitude of health problems after joining the oil spill clean-up effort and have joined a lawsuit against BP, Transocean Ltd. (which owned the rig) and Nalco (the company that sold BP the chemical dispersants used in the clean-up). Two of the residents were participants in BP’s VOO program. The VOO program employed more than 3,000 otherwise out-of-work boat operators during the oil spill. Under the VOO agreement, boat owners were to be available to BP 24 hours a day for laying booms, and burning and skimming surface oil among other tasks. BP was to be responsible for decontaminating the vessels, providing protective clothing and equipment, and paying for related damages and operating expenses. Hundreds of boat operators have since filed lawsuits alleging that BP broke several promises, including not paying for standby time, not repairing boats, and not sufficiently decontaminating vessels. Now, an increasing number of clean-up volunteers and VOO participants are suffering from medical issues ranging from chronic headaches to dizziness to respiratory problems to skin conditions. According to the Montgomery Advertiser article, some VOO participants said they were not provided respirators or other protective gear and other said they were told the hazard level was not high enough to warrant the use of respirators. If you were not adequately paid for your participation in VOO or you suffered other injury or economic loss related to the Gulf oil spill, please contact the Mobile, Alabama, oil spill attorneys at Long & Long, to schedule a free case evaluation.