July 2nd, 2010
01:11 PM ET

Dispersants flow into Gulf in 'science experiment'

Chemical dispersants keep flowing into the Gulf of Mexico at virtually unchanged levels despite the Environmental Protection Agency's order to BP to "significantly" scale back, according to a CNN analysis of daily dispersant reports provided by the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command.

When the May 26 directive was issued, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said dispersant use should be cut by 75 percent.

Public statements at the time made by the EPA administrator gave the impression that federal officials were trying to cut down overall dispersant use.

"We expect to see a substantial reduction in the overall amount of dispersant used," Jackson said in May.

Before May 26, BP used 25,689 gallons a day of the chemical dispersant Corexit. Since then, CNN's analysis shows, the daily average of dispersant use has dropped to 23,250 gallons a day, a 9 percent decline.

Gulf Coast environmentalists say it's another sign that the federal agencies monitoring dispersant use are not being tough enough with BP.

"I think the EPA has been struggling to respond to this crisis," said Aaron Viles with the Gulf Restoration Network. "It's all really a giant science experiment and we're terribly concerned that in the long run the impacts are going to be significant and we really don't know what we're doing to the ecosystem."

But the EPA argues it deserves credit for getting alarming dispersant use under control. The directive states that BP must ramp down dispersant use by "75 percent from the maximum daily amount used."

And that's the catch. The highest recorded amount of dispersant used occurred on May 23, when 70,000 gallons were injected into the Gulf of Mexico.

EPA officials say they feared that number would have become the norm and that's why, they say, the directive was issued.

"This escalation was quickly reversed, ensuring BP only uses the lowest volume of dispersant needed," said Adora Andy, a spokeswoman for the EPA.

But even by the EPA's own standards, BP still routinely exceeds the daily threshold. The EPA and Coast Guard say they're trying to keep dispersant use to around 18,000 barrels a day.

But according to CNN's analysis, BP has gone over that amount 50 percent of the time since the May 26 directive was issued. To do so, BP must request permission from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials say dispersant use is "evaluated daily" and that it's using the "safest and most effective methods available" to protect the sea environment.

"The EPA-Coast Guard directive has been successful in ensuring that BP uses the lowest volume of dispersant necessary," U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Erik Halvorson, a spokesman with the Unified Area Command.

The EPA continues testing the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500, which has been used by BP since the beginning of the oil disaster. So far more than 1.6 million gallons of the chemical have been injected into the Gulf of Mexico.

But the struggle over daily dispersant use has caught the eye of Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, one of the loudest critics of BP's response in cleaning up the oil spill.

"I think it is obvious we can never again allow for a repetition of what is happening right now, where the science experiment is being conducted without having any idea what the impact on marine life long term will be," said Markey.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Smith in Oregon

    Ten's of Millions of humans around the world depend on seafood harvested from the once fertile Gulf of Mexico region. Subjecting those that are foolish enough to continue such highly questionable practices as some kind of tumor or cancer experiment is really sick and perverted. The only comparison that could be drawn would be the deliberate release of radioactive fallout on American citizens to see what the long term effects would be. Ten's of thousands of children suffered leukemia and as many adults suffered thyroid cancer and problems. I suspect this Gulf of Mexico seafood experiment will result in a spike in skin, stomach and colon cancer's in the decades ahead.

    July 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joseph cecil smith

    dispersants aren't a science expirement they are bio-genocide, allowing oil to disperse and hit everything, all the levels of water, all the beaches, all of it.. tarnished for hundreds of miles.. instead, we should have contained and sucked the oil up as it emerges, 100,000 gallons per day. that's the only way. the oil is thousands of times bigger than our response.
    Obama are you supposed to defend the nation with all means possible? golf anyone?

    July 3, 2010 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. MJ

    I want to know if anyone saw on the cnn live feed what looked like a Nassa shot, It looked like a telescope looking into the sky with stars and clouds all around??? Please anyone?? I saw it and told my daughter look at this what is this it certainly does not look like the BP oil spill. She looked at it and said What the Heck is that? I want to know if anyone else has seen this.

    July 3, 2010 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Russ

    I'm sure that some of BP's people monitor the posts on this site. So BP make no mistake ! If you perform for the people of the US, in LA and FL you are done in AMERICA. I believe the people of the US will boycott you from nw on because you lied to us.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Russ

    I'm sure that some of BP's people monitor the posts on this site. So BP make no mistake ! Unless you perform for the people of the US, in LA and FL you are done in AMERICA. I believe the people of the US will boycott you from now on because you lied to us.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Christenson

    What is wrong with LISA JACKSON ?? As head of the EPA she is worthless. WHO is in charge.....BP ??? Why can't she stop that British company from destroying our nation's environment?? Where is Obama ???

    July 4, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lawrence

    A well known BP exex Tony Hayward needs drink a cup of oil dispersant, less people would think you are poisoning the gulf on purpose??? Let us see it's safe, test it on yourself, or maybe your family, or maybe a pet, rather than on every one and thing in the gulf.

    July 5, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
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    Colon cancer can be avoided if you just keep high fiber foods in your diet.,,~

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    the former president of the philippines Corazon Aquino died also of colon cancer"*`

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