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Saturday, May 15, 2010

CNN Reports Feds Approve Use of Dispersants.

Huh? I thought we were already using dispersants, on the surface AND at the leak site. This CNN report makes very little sense to me based on what was reported earlier. First we heard we were waiting for approval to use the chemicals, then we heard they were using them on the surface, then a BP executive said they were having good luck injecting dispersants underwater at the leak site. Isn't the above a video of a C-130 deploying tons of chemicals out of its cargo hold and into the Gulf? I also remember other reports in which environmentalists and other scientists expressed concern over the potentially harmful effects of the dispersants and of using a chemical that sinks the oil and binds it in clumps on the seabed. Yet this CNN report claims the dispersant is better than the oil because it breaks down faster over time.

So, which is it? Have we been deploying or haven't we? Of course we have.

Perhaps the EPA is just getting around to approving the use of dispersants even though BP has been using it for weeks. If it wasn't so sad, it might be funny.

Here's the official EPA comment dated May 12th:

Statement on Dispersant Use in BP Oil Spill

When this crisis occurred, Coast Guard and EPA granted BP authorization to use an approved dispersant on oil present on the surface of the water in an effort mitigate the impact of the spill. This authorization included specific conditions to ensure the protection of the environment and the health of residents in affected areas. At this time, BP is authorized to continue use of this dispersant on the surface of the water. To ensure nearby residents are informed and protected, the EPA is constantly monitoring air quality in the Gulf area through air monitoring air craft, and fixed and mobile air stations. The air monitoring data is posted as it becomes available on

The Coast Guard and EPA also authorized BP to conduct tests of a new approach to use this dispersant underwater, at the source of the leak. The tests were done to determine if the dispersant would be effective in breaking up the oil and helping to control the leaks. No further use of dispersants underwater is planned until BP provides the results of these tests for our review. The effects of underwater dispersant use on the environment are still widely unknown, which is why we are testing to determine its effectiveness first and foremost. If it is determined that the use of this dispersant underwater is effective and that BP may continue its use, the Federal government will require regular analysis of its impact on the environment, water and air quality, and human health. We reserve the right to discontinue the use of this dispersant method if any negative impacts on the environment outweigh the benefits.

EPA lists all dispersants that have been authorized for use on National Contingency Plan (NCP) Product Schedule

EPA has not given authorization for the full scale use of dispersants underwater beyond initial tests to determine its effectiveness. If EPA does approve the application of subsurface dispersants based on the results of testing, BP will be required to implement the monitoring and assessment plan below. The purpose of this plan is to monitor the movement and properties of a dispersed oil plume and to determine any ecological effects associated with the plume. We reserve the right to discontinue the use of this dispersant method if any negative impacts on the environment outweigh the benefits.

And here's a New York Times Story dated May 13th saying that BP has already used 400,000 gallons of a 'toxic' dispersant called, Corexit. The story says BP has another 800,000 gallons on order.

From the Times:

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.

I don't know about you, but 400,000 gallons sound like "Full Use" to me.

By the way, the Times claims Corexit is less effective and more toxic than other chemical dispersants, but, in fact, Corexit is on the list of the EPA's approved dispersants.

The really sad part about this is that it has taken the EPA this long to to give its approval for something that has already been going on for weeks. And why wouldn't we have these protocols in place already. I guess we can chalk it up to more government ineptitude.


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