5/26/10 The Waterkeeper Alliance and 41 of its affiliates, including Humboldt Baykeeper, expressed disappointment with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Obama administration regarding their lack of conviction to adequately regulate BP's use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico.


The chemical Corexit is being applied at unprecedented levels in an attempt to disperse oil from the ongoing spill. Impacts to human health, wildlife, and water quality are not well known, and Waterkeeper groups in the Gulf region are receiving reports of health problems from fishermen and people involved in the oil spill cleanup. 


Read the Waterkeeper Alliance letter to President Obama and Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency. 



5/20/10 The Environmental Protection Agency said it had told the oil company to immediately select a less toxic dispersant than the one it is now using to break up crude oil gushing from a ruined well in the Gulf of Mexico. Once the agency has signed off on a different product, it said, the company would then have 72 hours to start using it.

BP has sprayed nearly 700,000 gallons of Corexit dispersants on the surface of the gulf and directly onto the leaking well head a mile underwater. It is by far the largest use of chemicals to break up an oil spill in United States waters to date.

Scientists and politicians have questioned why the E.P.A. is allowing use of the Corexit products when less toxic alternatives are available.

On Monday, Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, sent a letter to Ms. Jackson at the E.P.A. demanding details of the formula for Corexit products and information about any testing that had been carried out on the chemicals.

In a statement on Thursday, the E.P.A. said, “Because of its use in unprecedented volumes and because much is unknown about the underwater use of dispersants, E.P.A. wants to ensure BP is using the least toxic product authorized for use.”

BP said it was reviewing its options and did not detail which or how many dispersants it might propose for use.

But U.S. Polychemical of Spring Valley, N.Y., which makes a dispersant called Dispersit SPC 1000, said Thursday morning that it had received an order from BP and would increase its production to 20,000 gallons a day in the next few days, and eventually to as much as 60,000 gallons a day.

In a letter to BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, the agency’s administrator, Lisa Jackson, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also warned the company that it had “fallen short” in keeping the public informed. It demanded that BP release and post all data related to the month-old spill and monitoring efforts on a public Web site.

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5/15/10 Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

“The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

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