Oil Spill Chemical Dispersant is Toxic to Sea Life – Necessary Evil?
With the leaky BP well belching more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil daily into the Gulf of Mexico, the immediate environmental concern is stopping the noxious mess from reaching the coast. To that end, chemical dispersants are being sprayed over huge areas of the oil slick. That the chemical dispersants are themselves a health hazard is a ‘given’. This is a tough pill for environmentalists and other like-minded people to swallow, but what other choice remains?
The clean-up crews are using a product called Corexit made by Nalco Company. The dispersant works by binding with the oil causing the slick to break up into droplets that sink below the surface. These droplets can then be carried away by the current. The next questions, of course, are: Carried away to where? What about the sea creatures that accidentally or otherwise ingest these droplets? What’s in these droplets, anyway?
Some of the ingredients are public information. However, other ingredients are proprietary. These are secret ingredients in a product that the British government dropped for safety reasons more than ten years ago. Even more disturbing is the report that another, far less lethal product called Dispersit was tested by the EPA at the same time as Corexit. No only did Dispersit prove lower in toxicity, it was also almost twice as effective (Corexit 54.7 percent, Dispersit 100%).
So, what killer do we choose – the one above the surface or the one below?