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BP's Dispersant Allowed Oil To Penetrate Beaches More Deeply

Environment  (tags: animals, climate-change, CO2emissions, conservation, destruction, dispersants, ecosystems, endangered, energy, environment, globalwarming, government, greenhousegases, habitatdestruction, healthconditions, nature, oceans, politics, pollution, trees, water )

- 2002 days ago -
In an attempt to deal with the 206 million gallons of light crude oil erupting from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010 BP unleashed about 2.6 million gallons of Corexit dispersants (Corexit 9500A and Corexit EC9527) in surface waters and at the-->

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Kit B (276)
Friday November 30, 2012, 5:33 am
(Photo: A worker cleans up oily waste on Elmer's Island, LA, 21 May 2010: Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley, US Coast Guard, via Flickr)

In an attempt to deal with the 206 million gallons of light crude oil erupting from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010 BP unleashed about 2.6 million gallons of Corexit dispersants (Corexit 9500A and Corexit EC9527) in surface waters and at the wellhead on the seafloor. From the beginning the wisdom of that decision was questioned. I wrote extensively about those concerns in BP's Deep Secrets.

In the short term the dispersed oil made BP's catastrophe look like less of a catastrophe since less oil made it to shore. But what about the long term?

In a new paper in PLOS ONE researchers took a closer look. They examined the effects of oil dispersed mechanically (sonication), oil dispersed by Corexit 9500A, and just plain seawater (the control). They used laboratory-column experiments to simulate the movement of dispersed and nondispersed oil through sandy beach sediments.
***see Chart at Visit Site ****

Their findings: Corexit 9500A allows crude oil components to penetrate faster and deeper into permeable saturated sands where the absence of oxygen may slow degradation and extend the lifespan of potentially harmful polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aka organic pollutants—aka persistently abominable hork—in the marine environment.

Furthermore, the authors warn, dispersants used in nearshore oil spills might penetrate deeply enough into saturated sands to threaten groundwater supplies. (Did anyone look at this in the BP settlement?)

How does dispersant change oil's behavior in a beach? The authors write:

The causes of the reduced PAH retention after dispersant application has several reasons: 1) the dispersant transforms the oil containing the PAHs into small micelles that can penetrate through the interstitial space of the sand. 2) the coating of the oil particles produced by the dispersant reduces the sorption to the sand grains, 3) saline conditions enhance the adsorption of dispersant to sand surfaces, thereby reducing the sorption of oil to the grains.

In other words, repeated flushing by waves washing up a contaminated beach may pump PAHs deep into the sediment when dispersant is present. Natural dispersants—those produced by oil-degrading bacteria—may support this effect when oil is present in the sand for longer time periods.

Furthermore the continuous flushing by waves on an oil-contaminated beach may result in the release of PAHs from the sand back to the water. And after PAHs are released from the sediment UV-light can increase their degradation but also increase their toxicity to marine life by up to eightfold.

As for what effects those long-lived PAHs have released back into the water, the authors cite recent research findings:

** Increased mortality in planktonic copepods exposed to dispersants with stronger effects on small-sized species.

** In early life stages of Atlantic herring dispersed oil dramatically impaired fertilization success.

** Grey mullet exposed to chemically dispersed oil showed both a higher bioconcentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and a higher mortality than fish exposed to either the water-soluble fraction of oil or the mechanically dispersed oil.

The open access paper: (Open link at VISIT SITE)

Alissa Zuijdgeest and Markus Huettel. Dispersants as Used in Response to the MC252-Spill Lead to Higher Mobility of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Oil-Contaminated Gulf of Mexico Sand. PLOS ONE (2012). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0050549

Julia Whitty is the environmental correspondent for Mother Jones | Mother Jones Magazine |


Cheryl O (82)
Friday November 30, 2012, 5:53 am
Seems to me something sinister has been going on with this situation since the beginning. Money and fines can never fix what has been done and it's so sad. Makes me sick. TY noted

Kit B (276)
Friday November 30, 2012, 8:13 am

It is making us all sick, slowly but sick all the same. Just much pollutants and toxic agents does any one think the human or any living creature or bio-ecology can any thing take?

Read - "Vultures Picnic" by Greg Palast

Daniel Partlow (179)
Friday November 30, 2012, 8:39 am
Figures, anything to make the problem "go away" even it it just looks like it. Just another dodge to get out of really cleaning things up. Just too much of the greedy profits!!

JL A (281)
Friday November 30, 2012, 11:16 am
More evidence to go with the assertion that no safe method for clean-up has been found yet...seems that no proposal should be approved for ocean drilling until a method is found and proven safe.

Robert O (12)
Friday November 30, 2012, 4:12 pm
Talk about making things worse and compounding a felony. Just further proves big oil is nothing but trouble. Thanks Kit.

Elle B (84)
Friday November 30, 2012, 5:14 pm
“Nature shrinks as capital grows. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates.” ― Vandana Shiva, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis Published: October 1, 2008

"The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun." ―Ralph Nader

“Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.” —George Carlin

“I quote others only to better express myself.” ―Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, French Renaissance Writer, 1533―1592


Amanda A (201)
Friday November 30, 2012, 5:25 pm
Our oceans are screwed, to put it nicely. Bit, we all knew this before reading yet, another depressing article. Our children's children will have nothing. We have become such a greedy careless selfish generation. Thank you Kit.

Marisa Bennett (4)
Friday November 30, 2012, 7:06 pm
BP lied before the oil sank to the bottom of the Deep Zone, to settle there as tar for approximately one million years (as National Geographic wrote in their magazine the following month.) Even as the coral reefs were dying, and the tuna were developing parasites, BP had already spun commercials encouraging people to come back and visit the clean beaches. This company should be forced to pay every penny they own, sell off all their equipment, and be forced out of business. They are not to be trusted. Not one thing they have said yet has been true. If they use the word "science" to back up their findings, be sure someone was paid off to do the fake research!

Past Member (0)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 2:24 am

Betty Kelly (4)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 1:02 pm
I don't believe all the damage done by this spill can be repaired. BP will have to be forced todo more to repair damages. Apparently they think the surface cleaning and time will let them walk away and drill up more devastationand pocket their trillions.

Kit B (276)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 1:51 pm

BP knows exactly what they are doing, what the longer term damages are and will be. They knew for certain the platforms were not properly equipped for safety and the US has called their hand. This has been standard operating procedure for this and other oil companies for too many years. Only deep cuts into profits will force them into responsible action.

Terry V (30)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 3:40 pm
The Nicest thing I can say is DOESN"T THAT JUST SUCK..................

Earth Cry

Planet Earth is Dying

Eve of Destruction

Onita Northington (44)
Saturday December 1, 2012, 4:45 pm
Sad and depressing to say the least.

Bec Mason (6)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 4:39 am

Wim Zunnebeld (144)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 5:33 am

Wim Zunnebeld (144)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 5:34 am

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday December 2, 2012, 4:50 pm
Seems to me that the "remedy" for the poison is as bad as the original poison. The oil and Corexit working together are creating destruction for sea life and the entire coastal region. We knew this was happening at the time, but the media discounted the warnings. Horrendous.
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