Federal decision to ‘ok’ BP dispersants damaging to wildlife and Gulf Coast culture

NEW ORLEANS, La. (May 15, 2010) — As predicted by Attorney Stuart Smith, of Smith Stag, LLC, on April 30, 2010, experts have determined that nearly 70,0000 barrels of crude oil are gushing out every day in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This information comes after the release of video by BP, which was first demanded by Mr. Smith on behalf of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and United Commercial Fisherman’s Association.

Mr. Smith had the following statement:

“BP has tried to hide the true extent of the damage of this catastrophe by injecting dispersants at the gusher site – even though laboratory and field experience show that these compounds are poisonous at low concentrations to fish, crustaceans including shrimp, crabs and lobsters, and oysters.

“The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced, without performing an environmental impact study, that they have authorized BP to use dispersants underwater, at the source of the Deepwater Horizon leak, a decision that could result in further damage to marine life.

“BP has not been honest about this oil spill from the start, and this latest action now promises an insidious flow of oil into the habitats of precious marine life in potentially every part of the Gulf from Texas to South Florida.

This decision by the federal government is disturbing. The livelihoods of the Gulf Coast fishermen we represent may very well be devastated for decades to come. The victims of this disaster cannot wait for the surface oils to visibly soil their beaches, buildings and boats in order to preserve their best chances to be made whole.

“In the more than three weeks since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began, crude oil has been erupting out of a pipe a mile underneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. A new analysis of seafloor video indicates that nearly 70,000 barrels are gushing out every day. That is at least 10 times the U.S. Coast Guard’s original estimate of the flow.

“This is equivalent to an Exxon Valdez type accident every four days. This rate of release is a significant threat not only to the environment but to public health for those downwind of the oil slick. Air discharges of components of oil, such as benzene a known human carcinogen, and other volatile organic compounds are significant. It is imperative that BP and the federal government immediately release to the public all information that they have as a result of modeling a worst case scenario.

“It is clear we are at a worst-case scenario.

“The extent of the oil flow was masked in part by BP’s use of dispersants – a practice the company had been ordered to stop because federal officials feared the effects on the exposed sea life. The dispersants have helped to keep the oil below the surface in a large underwater plume that cannot be easily seen by helicopters flying overhead or even by satellite

“The EPA monitoring plan is woefully inadequate.

“BP should be required to monitor and gather the evidence of the presence of its oil in that water column so that it can be tracked throughout the marine geography. Prime fisheries commence their lives in the very area where the oil and dispersants have been focused. Evidence shows that the larvae of Florida lobsters move into these open waters where they are most susceptible. Game fish breed in the areas that center on this disaster zone.

“Our legal team’s experts are warning that the consequences to marine life and the industries that rely on its health are far-reaching. They warn that the bacteria which consume the oil will convert it to other chemicals, potentially creating a serious toxic hazard.

“These dire consequences are further reasons to preserve data regarding the entire fishery in the open ocean, in the marshes and on the beaches.

“BP and the Federal Government need to start monitoring this disaster like it was a chemical plant fire or spill. On land, they’d be forced to do extensive testing to document, in zones moving out from the epicenter, exactly what is there from their plant so that cleanup can be effective and complete. We plan on using our experts to help document the BP disaster, but BP should be compelled to test and publicly publish the data from the epicenter outward, and from the sea floor to the surface. We cannot allow this critical information to be lost by the passage of time.

“Since the monitoring plan released by EPA today is woefully inadequate, we are urging the following corrective steps must be taken immediately to insure adequate data recovery:

  1. BP must be ordered to sample the sendiments on the ocean floor for the same parameters they are being required to test for in the water column;
  2. EPA must establish a frequency of testing that must be met. There is no such frequency requirement in the current protocol;
  3. EPA must immediately establish fixed action levels that when met would require BP to stop using the dispersants;
  4. EPA must require BP to test for the chemical actually in oil and in the dispersants;
  5. EPA must require total and complete identification of the horizontal and vertical extent of the entire plume in all directions using a grid system. Current protocol only requires testing in the areas in which dispersants are being used.

“Even the U.S. President has admonished the need for strong monitoring of industry’s actions and information in this catastrophe. EPA has not heeded these warnings to an extent that will protect this increasingly fragile environment.”


Stuart H. Smith of the law firm Smith Stag, LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana has assembled a team of independent lawyers from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to prosecute claims for those who have been affected by BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Commercial fishermen and shrimpers have filed a class-action lawsuit against BP and owners of the oil rig for economic losses stemming from the disaster.  The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, April 28 in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.  On Sunday, May 2, Judge Ginger Berrigan in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, after receipt of petition of Louisiana commercial fishermen, indicated the language in question in the Master Charter Agreement with BP was overbroad.  Legal counsel for BP agreed to enter into a stipulated judgment holding that the offensive provisions are without effect. Find more information at

LEAN is a non profit organization founded to help Louisiana citizens change the balance of power and challenge the continued economic and ecological destruction that had become institutionalized in Louisiana. By empowering more than one hundred grassroots, community organizations, and countless individuals, LEAN has already helped in gaining a tremendous foothold in the war to make Louisiana’s communities safer, healthier places to live. Visit

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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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