1.1 Million Gallons of Toxic Chemical Dispersants Now in the Gulf


Photo via OSTC

With the gruesome pictures of oil-covered birds and soiled shorelines now rolling in, and the narrative of the spill split between BP's continued inability to get a handle on the flow from the source and the federal government's inability to get a handle on BP, an important element of this debacle has slid under the radar: BP has continued to deploy hundreds of thousands of toxic chemical dispersants into the Gulf -- despite repeated directives from the EPA demanding that they halt the practice. They've now passed the 1 million gallon mark.Here's Grist on why we should be concerned about the continued use of these toxic chemicals:

the dispersant products, branded Corexit 9527A and Corexit 9500A, were made exclusively by a former Exxon subsidiary now owned by a company called Nalco. Exxon researchers had already acknowledged that they were significantly toxic for aquatic life. But just how toxic was mysterious -- particularly for humans. The publicly available data sheets for both products revealed that they have the "potential to bioconcentrate," but added this stunner: "No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product."
And yet, as of June 9th, reports show that over 1.1 million gallons of the dispersant have been unloaded in the Gulf, according to Grist. This is after a firm directive was issued by the EPA to BP, essentially commanding the company to cease using the stuff. And if you recall, BP essentially responded with a silent middle finger -- they simply refused. So what did the federal government do? Nada. As this goes to press, the dispersants continue to be dumped.

Meanwhile, Nalco won't release samples of the chemical to independent researchers to study the chemical, so someone could finally get an idea of just how toxic the stuff is. Multiple research units and universities have attempted to get a hold of a sample, but have been denied, according to Grist.

This is outrageous. I know that there's a sense of desperation in the need to find some way, any way to deal with the tragedy. When I went on a CBS news radio show a couple weeks back and mentioned my concern over the dispersants, the host basically asked me, well, do you have any better ideas? And I can't say that I do. But blindly dumping an untested toxic chemical in huge volumes would surely not be one of them.

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Tags: EPA | Gulf Oil Spill | Oil | Oil Spill