In this article Casey DeMoss Roberts takes a closer look at dispersants, specifically various forms of Corexit, the versions being used in massive amounts in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Check out the entire article, but we’re sharing the conclusion here, which echoes what scientist have been saying for weeks now – the use of Corexit, or any other toxic dispersant, in this volume and at this level has never been done. EPA is simply nodding in agreement with BP’s use of the Gulf of Mexico as their own personal science project. I’d prefer we didn’t dump first, measure second.
We do, however, know the result of dispersant use in other large oil spills, which you can read about here. If you aren’t calling/writing or otherwise yelling at your local, state and federal officials, as well as the EPA, every day demanding answers and the elimination of dispersants, then you haven’t read enough about the potential short and long term consequences to North America.
The general consensus of the scientific community is that the use of dispersants requires a trade-off. The choice to use dispersants means accepting 1) greater concentrations of chemically-dispersed oil in the water column, 2) a potential reduction in persistent stranded oil, and 3) increased unknowns on long-term toxicity on sediments and marine life. So far, BP has applied almost 1 million gallons of dispersant to the surface and subsea in response to the BP Horizon Drilling Disaster. The initial choice was to keep the oil out of sensitive marsh areas at the expense of deep water marine life in the hope that marine bacteria would metabolize the oil. The sheer magnitude of the amount of oil that keeps flowing into the Gulf makes any trade-off decision moot. There is just not enough dispersant to keep all the oil out of the marshes. Further, the bacteria that eat oil also metabolize oxygen in the process. This has the potential to create an enormous area in the Gulf with depleted dissolved oxygen. Essentially, BP is conducting the largest chemical experiment ever attempted in the Gulf of Mexico and the final results will not be in for another 10-20 years.