SWEEPING IT UNDER THE CARPET:Corexit on the spill in an attempt to break up and sink the oil floating on the surface.
Chemical dispersants are being used to break up the oil spill, causing it to sink to the depths - out of sight, out of mind! But what are the true environmental affects of this procedure?
This paper sheds light on the challenges encountered after the oil has sunk. Just because it isn't seen at the surface does not mean it is gone. To the contrary, it is suspended in the water column and transported by the currents to other areas where it may re-appear causing ecological damage at the surface, or settle to the sea floor harming bottom dwelling life, not to mention everything in between.
The dispersants also evaporate some of the oil. This and the burning of the oil on the surface also pollute the air causing additional problems. Officials are now looking into the odors which abound in the coastal areas and inland even as far as New Orleans.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA - has dispatched a science team to study the spill. In conjunction with their efforts the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium research ship Pelican has been redirected to aid in the survey of the water column in the Gulf.
What are the long term effects of the use of dispersants?
FAIRHOPE, Ala. — The potential long-term impact of using chemical dispersants as part of BP’s plan of attack against the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not yet known, and that is causing concern for some.
One group fears every gallon used to fight the massive oil spill caused when British Petroleum’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform exploded last month could cause as much, if not more, harm to the environment and its inhabitants than the crude itself.
That’s the word coming from a group of toxicology experts, led by Dr. William Sawyer, addressing the Gulf Oil Disaster Recovery Group, a group of lawyers claiming to protect the interests of those affected by the crisis.
BP chooses to use chemical dispersants produced by a company with which it has close ties rather than far less toxic and more effective products manufactured by competing companies:
BP PLC continues to stockpile and deploy oil-dispersing chemicals manufactured by a company with which it shares close ties, even though other U.S. EPA-approved alternatives have been shown to be far less toxic and, in some cases, nearly twice as effective.Additional Reading Here and Here
So far, BP has told federal agencies that it has applied more than 400,000 gallons of a dispersant sold under the trade name Corexit and manufactured by Nalco Co., a company that was once part of Exxon Mobil Corp. and whose current leadership includes executives at both BP and Exxon. And another 805,000 gallons of Corexit are on order, the company said, with the possibility that hundreds of thousands of more gallons may be needed if the well continues spewing oil for weeks or months.
Of 18 dispersants whose use EPA has approved, 12 were found to be more effective on southern Louisiana crude than Corexit, EPA data show. Two of the 12 were found to be 100 percent effective on Gulf of Mexico crude, while the two Corexit products rated 56 percent and 63 percent effective, respectively. The toxicity of the 12 was shown to be either comparable to the Corexit line or, in some cases, 10 or 20 times less, according to EPA. [Blog Editor's Note: that should read 1/10 to 1/20 of the toxicity. There is no such thing as "10-20 times less" unless you are talking about negative numbers. 1 time less is zero! Arrgghh!]
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