Please rec the BP Catastrophe Liveblog Mothership: 70
The headlines are piling up and the evidence is frightening to say the least even though the EPA is saying everything's fine, Citing Tests, E.P.A. Says It Was Wise to Use Oil Dispersant.
Spraying dispersants on oily water in the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t make the mixture any more toxic than the water was with Louisiana sweet crude alone, the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday.
Paul Anastas, the agency’s assistant administrator for research and development, said that the toxicity of the mix of oil and dispersant sprayed to combat the gulf oil spill was generally in the range of moderate, comparable to the effects of the oil.
Though all dispersants are potentially dangerous when applied in such volumes, Corexit is particularly toxic. It contains petroleum solvents and a chemical that, when ingested, ruptures red blood cells and causes internal bleeding. It is also bioaccumulative, meaning its concentration intensifies as it moves up the food chain.
The dispersant has caused more issues as BP tries to say that the worst is over and it is not. It's not.
Scientists have found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico, the first clear indication that the unprecedented use of dispersants in the BP oil spill has broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the foodchain.
Marine biologists started finding orange blobs under the translucent shells of crab larvae in May, and have continued to find them "in almost all" of the larvae they collect, all the way from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Fla. -- more than 300 miles of coastline -- said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
With BP's well possibly capped for good, and the surface slick shrinking, some observers of the Gulf disaster are starting to let down their guard, with some journalists even asking: Where is the oil?
But the answer is clear: In part due to the1.8 million gallons of dispersant that BP used, a lot of the estimated 200 million or more gallons of oil that spewed out of the blown well remains under the surface of the Gulf in plumes of tiny toxic droplets. And it's short- and long-term effects could be profound.
And profound is just one way of putting it. And fisherman are being told they can go back to their work, shrimpers, etc. But they aren't buying it, as the new CEO says he would serve gulf fish to his family.
But who would you trust, this guy, or the people who live there and work there and who have been living this nightmare for the past three months? Not Even Gulf Fishermen Buy The Government's 'Smell Test' Policy On Oil-Exposed Seafood.
VENICE, La. — Seafood from some parts of the oil-fouled Gulf of Mexico has been declared safe to eat by the government, based in part on human smell tests. But even some Gulf fishermen are questioning whether the fish and shrimp are OK to feed to their own families.
Some are turning up their noses at the smell tests – in which inspectors sniff seafood for chemical odors – and are demanding more thorough testing to reassure the buying public about the effects of the oil and the dispersants used to fight the slick.
"If I put fish in a barrel of water and poured oil and Dove detergent over that, and mixed it up, would you eat that fish?" asked Rusty Graybill, an oysterman and shrimp and crab fisherman from Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish. "I wouldn't feed it to you or my family. I'm afraid someone's going to get sick."
But BP and Nalco, the maker of Corexit are on a full court press to make sure this is seen as a victory for them, to cut losses and their stock portfolio's, it would make sense that you would find this at Market Watch...
Nalco is pleased to see continuing scientific review and analysis of the conditions in the Gulf of Mexico relating to the oil spill. Among other things, the findings of today's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's peer reviewed report indicate:
-- that dispersed oil is generally no more toxic than oil,
-- that dispersants appear to increase the efficiency of natural
biodegradation by 50 percent,
-- there is no evidence of harm to wildlife from the dispersants used in the Gulf.
This is just not the case though, the emergency is not over, we have much to be concerned about. The two concerns are the underwater plumes of dispersed oil and their long term effects.
It's a new crisis unfolding and it will continue to do so. And as we learn that the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf was always underestimated, we're to believe there is nothing to worry about?
Since this is a press release, I am going to include it all.
Toxic chemical components from crude may pose serious problems for fisheries
NEW ORLEANS, July 30 PRNewswire -- A Statement from Attorneys Stuart Smith and Mike Stag, and Toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer:
"Most southeast Louisiana residents know by now that BP is using chemical dispersants in the Gulf to help make the oil go away. Unfortunately, dispersants do not 'make the oil go away' – quite the reverse, dispersants merely conceal a portion of the oil underwater.
"Dispersants also leave behind a witch's brew of other potentially-dangerous chemicals after interacting with crude oil in water. Not only do these toxic components damage the environment, but they introduce potentially-serious human health and marine environmental problems.
"Louisianans can expect to experience long-term effects for some time, not only to their health, but also their ecosystem and way of life. And the real problems can't necessarily be seen.
"When you fly over the Macondo site where the Deepwater Horizon rig was located, the water looks like a gelatinous toxic soup thanks to this mix of dispersants and oil.
"Dispersants were meant to be used at the surface of oil spills. The millions of gallons of Corexit used at the Macondo wellhead site to prevent the oil spill from surfacing have caused as much as 70 percent of the spill to remain hidden from view.
"BP's use of dispersants deep underwater, and on such a large scale, represents the first time these chemicals have been used in this manner.
Normally, dispersants are applied in small quantities at the surface and the chemical toxins of their use become sufficiently diluted over time so as to pose only minimal health risks. However, because of the volume of dispersants applied, the volume of oil involved, and because the dispersants were applied deep underwater, what remains afterward can be dangerous to human life and deadly with respect to marine reproduction.
"These toxic chemicals, known carcinogens, are just lingering, invading marine life and the ecosystem of the Gulf. The long-term impact on wildlife and many residents' way of life hasn't been fully estimated. If the result of using these chemicals sterilizes our fisheries, what will it do to those of us who eat this seafood?
"Based upon a published efficacy study of Corexit 9500 on southern Louisiana crude at 70 percent efficacy, it is estimated that approximately 1/10th of a billion gallons of crude has been suspended underwater. However, what remains is not normal crude, but highly toxic fractions of what was once crude.
"Because these chemical concentrations are underwater, the insidious effects of their presence are not clearly visible to the naked eye, and the large scope of application and the vast geography of the Gulf make it exceedingly difficult to track.
"Only by conscientiously following through and professionally monitoring and analyzing the effects of these toxic chemicals can we accurately assess the true impacts of BP's introduction and potential misuse of dispersants into what was a short time ago a pristine marine environment."
Much of the deepwater findings referred to by Mr. Smith are based on official NOAA testing data and the results of independent testing. To insure that laboratory findings were both accurate and impartial, Mr. Smith hired well-known experts to gather data and study the air and water quality of the area. This effort, spearheaded by Chief Toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer, has produced some alarming facts:
To date, BP has applied nearly 2 million gallons of Corexit(TM) EC9500A Dispersant. There is substantial evidence of severe toxicological consequences, both in the shallow waters off Louisiana and in the offshore plumes farther out in the Gulf. Of particular concern are chemicals called "polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons" (PAHs) and the C19-C36 water insoluble hydrocarbons. These chemicals are appearing at toxic levels under the surface as a result of the application of deepwater chemical dispersants. PAHs and this normally water-insoluble set of hydrocarbons have known destructive effects on marine reproduction, particularly on egg-laying species as well as embryo-larval stages within the estuaries. Documented measurements of some of these chemicals are in great excess of established and risk-based lethal levels. The current PAH levels are capable of "sterilizing" our fisheries and estuary reproduction zones. The chemical toxins (PAHs) suspended in these concentrations pose potential human health concerns due to bioaccumulation in edible species.
This is not just the health of the Gulf residents, their livelihoods and their economy, this could profoundly affect the health of the oceans, the food chain and those who buy the food caught in the Gulf. This has much far reaching consequences and it will for decades.
But the EPA says it's fine, BP says it's fine, why am I still concerned? Because of things I've read, studies, Rikki Ott and her tremendous efforts to educate people about what happened in the wake of the Exxon Valdez. And we cannot turn a blind eye to the health of those who are living in the Gulf. And then you have whistleblower Hugh Kaufman, who was featured in a Mother Jones article about just what the EPA doesn't want to admit.
An Environmental Protection Agency staff member is accusing his employer of being coy when it comes to dispersant use in the Gulf. Career whistleblower Hugh Kaufman says EPA officials know that the chemicals present a threat to public health and the Gulf ecosystem and should be banned; they just don't want to say so.
Kaufman, a senior policy analyst in the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, alleges that agency administrator Lisa Jackson sidestepped the issue last week in her answers to questions about whether the agency has the authority to call off use of dispersants in the Gulf. The agency, he says, is deliberately downplaying the threat—and its own role in regulating the chemicals—to protect itself from liability and keep the public from getting too alarmed.
But Kaufman is not alone in his concern. According to Ruch, at least 10 other EPA staffers, including several toxicologists, have come to PEER to raise concerns about dispersants and other health problems in the Gulf, claiming that their superiors at the agency are not doing due diligence when it comes to dispersants. "[EPA] appears to be making decisions at the behest of BP and not exercising much, if any, independent judgment," says Ruch.
And just last week Kaufman was featured on Countdown as a guess to explain his concerns regarding the use of Corexit.
There is much to be concerned about and it will be up to us to keep an eye on things, just as the Gulf Watchers do, remember to rec the latest Mothership and to keep your eyes on what is happening in the Gulf, we must continue to make sure that the residents of the Gulf are not forgotten, the crisis is not over, even if the well is capped.
This is what happens when the worst case scenario has no plan, or in this case was so poorly planned for that everyone thought there was a plan.
It's obvious there wasn't and BP threw everything they knew at this problem as they tried to figure out how to cap the well. Booming and dispersants don't mix. The Berms, the skimmers, the burning of oil.
Years of technology on drilling and nothing on how to collect oil if things go awry.
Banned toxic chemicals in amounts never used before, sprayed, "carpet bombed" and poured into the oceans in hopes of hiding the oil. What plumes?
Over and over again, BP has downplayed this spill to be slapped up side the head by scientists saying, wait a minute, no that's not RIGHT.
And now a public relations front say that it's all fine, don't worry.
We need more than that, we deserve more than that. If the food chain is compromised, then the workers in the Gulf should receive more assistance rather than being forced to smell the food before selling it to a wary public.
We can do better than this.
Our dependence on fossil fuels still puts us at environment risks, this spill will cost us more than we can ever imagine and we must learn from this if we are every going to actually evolve and grow to a new energy future.
One of the worst outcomes would be for nothing at all to change.
UPDATE: Alternet has a great piece on the issue BP's Rosy Predictions Are B.S. -- Scientists Say Gulf Spill Will Have Catastrophic Impact for Generations. It reitterates the issue that just because we can't see the oil, doesn't mean it's gone and the effects of corexit on the food chain.
According to Dr. Cake, his study teams have people watching and monitoring affected areas.
"In the past month, in Bretton and Chandeleur Sounds, oil was there during the day, it was sprayed with Corexit at night, and the next day it was gone. Where did it go? It went to the bottom, and that's adjacent to where these oyster farms are. So at that point, there's a lot less water for that Corexit to disperse into, and there may be an impact from that on the oysters."
Cake said that while scientists have found very large plumes of dispersed oil at depth, "I'm not sure that oil will ever get here as dispersed clouds. It's getting here as sunken clouds, because that's what they [BP] wanted it to do. Sink it, get it out of sight out of mind."
"We're poisoning the entire Gulf of Mexico food web," Hobbs, who is also an instructor and advisor in the Environmental Studies Department at University of West Florida, told IPS. "It's crazy, and it's criminal. I'm deeply concerned with the long-term ecological and human impact."
Dr. Cake is among a large and growing group of scientists who are discussing a grim future for much of the Gulf of Mexico as a result of BP's disaster.
"The oil itself on the bottom is being eaten by bacteria. This has always been the case in naturally occurring seeps across the Gulf. But now we've introduced much more oil, and as the bacteria grow they are consuming the oxygen that is in that area. And that oxygen loss will result in dead/hypoxic zones, like the one off the West side of the Mississippi over towards Galveston where there's one that is 3,000 square mile area of dead bottom. Now we're looking at that along the eastern part because of the presence of so much more bacteria."
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