Dispersants: The New Gulf Crisis



Many Gulf-area residents and media folks following the spill are convinced BP used unprecedented amounts of chemical dispersants “to make the oil go away.” With all due respect, that assumption is just plain wrong. What those chemicals actually did, in effect, is trade an oil spill on the ocean surface for a toxic oil-and-dispersant spill hidden underwater. This may be good for BP’s public relations campaign, and maybe even its effort to dodge fines for the spill, but dispersant use is going to end up having very serious adverse effects on the environment and human health. It’s making a terrible situation even worse.

I’ve flown over the spill area, and I can tell you that when you fly over the Macondo site where the Deepwater Horizon rig was located, the water looks gelatinous. All the underwater dispersants have turned the Gulf into a toxic stew. The fact is that dispersants are designed to be used on the surface. That’s a fact. But the hundreds of thousands of gallons of Corexit injected at the well site to prevent the oil from surfacing have caused as much as 70 percent of the oil to remain hidden from view. Now it’s much harder to locate and consequently even more difficult to clean up.

We hired one of the nation’s best environmental researchers – a veteran toxicologist by the name of Dr. William Sawyer – to conduct some extremely important tests regarding dispersant use that were verified by a third-party laboratory. His findings are alarming, and were covered, in part, by Lisa Myers on NBC Nightly News last night (Friday, July 30).

The bottom line is that BP has worked hard to hide important evidence of the spill, and in so doing, the company will damage not only the environment but an entire way of life along the Gulf Coast not for months or years, but for generations to come.

See Dr. Sawyer’s press release here: http://www.gulfoildisasterrecovery.com/web/index.asp?mode=full&id=732

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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