It took over a year, but earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency finally released a partial list of the chemical components in oil dispersants used to “clean up” portions of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
EPA released a list of the 57 ingredients in all of the dispersants eligible for use in oil spills and identified the specific ingredients of some of them—in particular, Dispersit, Mare Clean, and COREXIT 9500 and COREXIT 9527, which were used in response to the oil disaster in the Gulf.
“This disclosure was long overdue,” said Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engelman Lado. “These dispersants were used in massive quantities, nearly 2 million gallons, exposing workers, community residents, and wildlife to toxic chemicals, without adequate information about whether they were adding injury to the already tragic circumstances.”
The new chemical dispersant data was released as a result of a lawsuit filed in July of 2010 on behalf of Florida Wildlife Federation and Gulf Restoration Network, represented by Earthjustice. However, EPA continues to withhold the identity of specific ingredients found in most of the dispersants that are eligible for use in response to oil spills.
As Care2′s Nancy Roberts reported during coverage of the Gulf oil spill, “The chemical, Corexit–also known as deodorized kerosene–is used to break up oil into tiny drops, which then sink underwater.”
At that time toxicology expert Dr.William Sawyer noted, “With respect to marine toxicity and potential human health risks, studies of kerosene exposures strongly indicate potential health risks to volunteers, workers, sea turtles, dolphins, breathing reptiles and all species which need to surface for air exchanges, as well as birds and all other mammals.”
In May 2010, about a month into the disaster, BP was ordered to stop using Corexit as a dispersant for oil floating on the surface of the Gulf. Sadly BP ignored the EPA’s directive, claiming that no safer alternative was available in the quantities required. And they kept dumping the Corexit.
Image Credit: DeepwaterHorizonResponse.com