Photo via OSTC
Much has been made about BP's use of toxic chemical dispersants to break down and disperse the crude throughout the Gulf, and rightfully so. We also keep hearing about the "thousands of miles of boom" that BP is deploying to protect the coastline as one of the key PR points on how aggressive the oil company has been in fighting the slick. But, as Greenpeace marine biologist and oil spill expert Paul Horsman explains, doing both creates a conflicting, counterproductive cleanup strategy. Here's why:
You don't have to be an oil spill expert to see why breaking something down into tiny bits and dispersing it throughout a mile-plus deep and hundreds-miles wide region makes it more difficult to cordon off and contain on the surface.
I'm inclined to agree with Horsman -- it seems absolutely crazy to me that the move to blast the source of the leaks with largely untested dispersants nonstop has not only been chosen as the preferred containment method, but rubber stamped by the EPA as well. Horsman elaborates on the specific problems he has with the powerful dispersants:
Of course, trying to contain the spill in largely ineffective booms is hardly an appealing option, and there are distinct dangers in letting the oil hit the marshland and Louisiana shoreline, where it would be extremely difficult to clean up. But attempting what's essentially a massive experiment combining toxic chemicals with millions of gallons of spewing crude oil seems even more alarming. I'm with Horsman -- turning to the unknown in this case is a dangerous gamble.
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