Did Coast Guard allow excessive toxic dispersants?


Greenspace
Los Angeles Times
August 1, 2010

Documents released by a congressional committee Saturday show that the U.S. Coast Guard appeared to flout a May 25 Obama administration directive that sought to limit the use of chemical dispersants on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to “rare cases.”

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“BP carpet-bombed the ocean with these chemicals, and the Coast Guard allowed them to do it,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House energy and environment subcommittee. “After we discovered how toxic these chemicals really are, they had no business being spread across the gulf in this manner.”

Dispersants were authorized by federal officials despite their toxicity because the ecological damage from oil was deemed to be worse.  But scientists say that the chemicals, which break up the oil into tiny droplets, have contributed to large plumes of hydrocarbons below the ocean’s surface. And it is unclear whether the danger to marine organisms may be higher from toxic dispersants or from oil.

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