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Center for Biological Diversity to sue EPA over toxic dispersants in Gulf

By Gary Bogue
Friday, June 4th, 2010 at 6:26 am in Chemical dispersants, Oil, Oil Spills.

Sperm whale. Photo by Flickr user strange ones used under a Creative Commons License.
sperm whale, strange ones

From the weekly e-newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity, June 3, 2010:

To stop the oil-spill response from making the catastrophe even worse for wildlife, this Tuesday (June 1) the Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for not protecting endangered species from the nearly one million gallons of toxic chemical dispersants it approved for use in the Gulf.

Kemps Ridley sea turtle photo courtesy of Fish and Wildlife Commission

Our notice requests that the agency, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, immediately study the effects of dispersants on species like sea turtles, sperm whales, piping plovers, and corals — and then incorporate the resulting knowledge into spill-response efforts.

In theory, dispersants, chemicals used to break oil spills into tiny droplets, let the oil be diluted faster as it’s eaten by microorganisms. But the effects of what BP is now doing in the Gulf — using huge quantities of toxic dispersants and injecting them into very deep water — has never been studied. And dispersants, including Corexit 9527, the type of dispersant used by BP (and banned in the United Kingdom), have been shown to be harmful to seabirds, corals, and fish.

“We’re left with few options ranging from bad to worse, and maybe even worse than that, to clean up the spill,” said Senior Oceans Attorney Andrea Treece. “There is an element, here, of BP trying to ‘bury the body’ with dispersants by keeping the oil beneath the surface, keeping it from shore, making it a lot harder to track.”

Check out our press release

and get the latest on the Gulf spill on our comprehensive, updated-daily Gulf Disaster Web page

As I said here yesterday when I wrote about chemical dispersants … “Out of sight and out of mind.” My thanks to the Center for Biological Diversity for trying to do something about the use of these toxic chemicals.  /Gary

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