Yerkes was exposed to both oil and dispersants while working to clean up oil during his stint in the VOO program.
"I have spent the years since the spill happened literally trying to survive," Yerkes told Truthout. "I've lost five friends now who were also exposed to BP's oil and dispersants, who were unable to seek proper treatment to extract the chemicals from their bodies before the exposure killed them."
Not long after his exposure, Yerkes became violently ill, started bleeding from his nose and ears, and began vomiting blood. When he couldn't get well, he had his blood tested and found it contained high levels of chemicals, which his physician attributed to BP's oil disaster.
Following the advice of his attending physician, Yerkes was forced to move away from the Gulf, to northern Georgia. Now he must regularly give himself intravenous treatments of saline flushes and various medications. "I have chronic headaches, a fever, and suffer chronic unbearable pain in my muscles and joints, and have had chemical pneumonia twice so far."
For large numbers of fishermen and coastal residents living in the four-state impact zone of BP's oil spill, the disaster has never ended.