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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 21st October 2016 > SICK BAYOU


Years after the Deepwater Horizon well was capped, residents blame it for pneumonia, seizures, pounding migraines and other frightening ills


SOLIDARITY: Riki Ott hugs Lorrie Williams as Bud Waltman (left) looks on at a meeting for Gulf Coast residents with ailments possibly related to the BP oil spill.

SCOTT PORTER remembers the last time he felt completely well. It was a warm, clear day with sparkling blue skies in June 2010. A deep-sea diver and marine biologist, he was taking a TV news crew out on a 30-foot catamaran to one of his favorite spots in the Gulf of Mexico, a coral reef growing on an abandoned oil platform at Main Pass 311. It lies about 40 miles north of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which had exploded six weeks earlier. The rig’s severely damaged wellhead a mile below the surface was still gushing thousands of barrels of oil a day— and ongoing coverage of the accident continued to generate headlines. Federal offi cials had assured Porter that the water around the reef was safe, but the acrid smell of crude permeated the air. The minute he plunged into the murky seas, he found himself immersed in a 40-foot-thick mucous plume of oil and chemical dispersants.

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