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EPA releases information on chemical content of dispersants. Louisiana court has ordered testing of all "produced" waters believed to be contaminating the Gulf of Mexico. Judges chosen to hear the Gulf Coast Claims Facility appeals. LA lawmaker wants spill health claims monitored by the state. Minnesota looking for volunteers to count loons.

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Part one of the digest of diaries is here and part two is here.

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The environmental law group, Earthjustice, in July of 2010,filed a lawsuit in federal court to force the EPA to release health and safety information about the dispersants that were being dumped in large quantities into the Gulf of Mexico. The suit was filed on behalf of the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation. Finally the EPA has released a partial list of 57 chemicals that are common to all the dispersants eligible for use.
EPA released a list of the 57 ingredients in all of the dispersants eligible for use in oil spills and identified the specific ingredients of some of them—in particular, Dispersit, Mare Clean, and COREXIT 9500 and COREXIT 9527, which were used in response to the oil disaster in the Gulf.  The 57 ingredients were part of a larger list of 150 chemicals made public by EPA, which also included components found in consumer products.

The new chemical dispersant data was released as a result of a lawsuit filed in July of 2010 on behalf of Florida Wildlife Federation and Gulf Restoration Network, represented by Earthjustice. However, EPA continues to withhold the identity of specific ingredients found in most of the dispersants that are eligible for use in response to oil spills.

“This disclosure was long overdue,” said Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engelman Lado. “These dispersants were used in massive quantities, nearly 2 million gallons, exposing workers, community residents, and wildlife to toxic chemicals, without adequate information about whether they were adding injury to the already tragic circumstances

The EPA "challenged" industry to drop confidentiality claims for chemical identity in health and safety studies under the Toxic Substances Control Act. It also claims to have set up new guidelines to determine eligibility for confidential treatment.

“This action to disclose the identity of more than 150 chemicals is an important step in EPA’s commitment to give the American people access to critical information about chemicals that their children and families may be exposed to,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “A health and safety study with the chemical name kept secret is completely useless to the public.”
In addition to these actions, EPA over the past several months has taken a number of other steps to make chemical information more readily available. The agency has provided the public, for the first time ever, with free access to the consolidated TSCA Inventory on the EPA and Data.Gov websites. EPA also launched a new chemical data access tool that for the first time gives the public the ability to electronically search EPA’s database of more than 10,000 health and safety documents on a wide range of chemicals that they may come in contact with every day. EPA will continue to take actions to increase the public’s access to chemical information.

More information:

I did some brief searching, and it appears you need to know the identification number of the product you are searching; chemical content and studies are not listed by product name. Here's hoping that someone smarter than I will be publishing that information on dispersants soon.

Earthjustice has also petitioned the EPA to improve the way dispersants are tested and approved. The Chemical Dispersant Safety Act which was introduced in the Senate would also require stronger action on the part of the EPA.

The Gulf of Mexico has been subjected to pollution as a result of oil and gas production for a long time.  The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) has finally scored a victory in a state considered "industry friendly" LEAN and its attorney Stuart H Smith filed a lawsuit with the Louisiana State Court of Appeal stating that the State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had not protected the public from pollution and possible radiation when it issued oil and gas exploration permits. The DEQ has now been ordered to test the waste water-  including deck drainage, produced water, well treatment and work-over fluids, hydrostatic test and other waste waters related to exploration, development and production- being dumped back into the Gulf by oil and gas companies.
According to LEAN, the production of oil and gas generates several different waste streams. Every oil and gas formation, or reservoir, contains these waste streams.

The toxins associated with these streams can be broken down into three primary categories: (1) organic elements like benzene; (2) inorganic heavy metals including lead, chromium and cadmium; and (3) most important, naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).

Radioactive elements such as radium, thorium and uranium are known byproducts of the oil production process. These toxic elements are extracted from the ground along with the oil and gas, and are separated from the fossil fuels as part of the production process.

Once the NORM is extracted, it is flushed directly back into the ocean in the waste-stream byproduct known as produced water. In an uncontrolled sub-sea release, like that from BP's runaway Macondo Well, NORM spews directly into the water. Thus, last year's spill released an unprecedented amount of NORM directly into Gulf waters, exacerbating an already dangerous situation.

LEAN sent samples of Gulf water to the U.K. to be tested. the resulting report showed radioactive material at levels much higher than the ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) risk model suggests. Of particular concern is its concentration in the seafood that Gulf residents consume so much of .

The uranium content, radon gases present in the methane expelled from the wells and significant concentrations of radium-226 and radium-228 are present in the produced waters, yet no estimates of these radioactive discharges have been publicly released by the federal government. However, the federal Environmental Protection Agency did require produced water testing and monitoring in the Gulf until 2002, when the state DEQ failed to continue the permitting process.

Looks like there is more data that the EPA needs to release! Bet those levels haven't declined since 2002, yet it would be nice to have a baseline.

A panel has been appointed to hear the appeals made to the Gulf Coast Compensation Fund. The panel includes retired lawyers, law professors and trial attorneys, all from the Gulf states. Six of the twenty-five members are from Louisiana.
The appointments were made by Jack Weiss, chancellor of the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, who was named by GCCF Claims Administrator Kenneth Feinberg as the appointing authority for the appeals judges.

The six Louisianians are retired Judge Robert J. Burns Sr. of Metairie, a former chief judge for the 24th Judicial District Court and judge pro tempore of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals; retired Judge Philip C. Ciaccio of New Orleans, who served on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal and as justice ad hoc of the Supreme Court of Louisiana; former 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge David S. Gorbaty of Chalmette; Tulane Law School professor Ronald J. Scalise Jr. of New Orleans; New Orleans attorney, mediator and arbitrator Lynne R. Stern; and Freddie Pitcher Jr. of Baton Rouge, chancellor of the Southern University Law Center and a former judge of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal.

Let us hope that they are more compassionate than Mr. Feinberg.

A Louisiana state lawmaker wants spill related health cases monitored.  
House Bill 389, by Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, originally sought to make “null, void and unenforceable” all BP settlements and releases that let the energy giant off the hook for illnesses or diseases proven to be caused by the oil spill.

Lawmakers, however, gutted the proposal as opposition from the business community mounted.

Now Connick is hoping to add an amendment requiring state health officials to keep records of those showing signs of an ailment related to last year’s spill.
It urges the state Department of Health and Hospitals to “investigate any health conditions suffered by responders to the Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil-rig explosion and provide direction for the long-term health care of these individuals.”

The Louisiana Shrimp Association approves of the legislation

The Louisiana Shrimp Association recently came out in support of Connick's proposal. "Many of our Louisiana fishermen were involved in BP oil disaster response and cleanup during last year's oil disaster and were exposed to dangerous chemicals from the oil and the poisonous dispersants and certainly are and will be suffering from this exposure now and in the future," says LSA President Clint Guidry of Lafitte.

Given the state of health and healthcare that was the baseline in Louisiana, I wouldn't expect this legislation to help too much.

Among the 50 states, Louisiana ranks 44th to 49th (depending on the metric used, with 1st being best) in the overall health of residents; rates of infant death, death from cancer,premature death, death from cardiovascular causes, high-school graduation, children living in poverty, health insurance coverage, and violent crime.

Minnesota needs volunteers to count loons, in part to discover the effects of the 2010 oil spill on their state bird.
The Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program originally started in 1994.

Katie Haws, northwest region nongame specialist, said the program is designed to monitor the loons’ health over the long term.

“It’s to calculate statistics on the number of young that the adults prepare on each lake and the number of loons on each lake,” Haws said. “It is quantitative, but it’s not a state-wide thing.”

This year in particular, Haws said officials are looking to study the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf, where loons spend their winters.

“There are a lot of environmental threats to loons,” Haws said.

Childers said officials are always questioning whether or not the population of the endangered species is increasing or decreasing.

“If it’s declining because of human impact, it’s important to see that trend and be able to hopefully make changes and help their habitat,” she said.

The survey, which is conducted almost entirely by volunteers, will be done between July 1 and July 11.

Haws said volunteers pick one or more lakes to survey and spend an hour or two counting the number of loons seen there; this is done either by boat or on land, depending on the size of the lake.

Currently, nearly 20 lakes are still available to be counted.

For more information, go to Minnesota loon monitoring program” link.

To volunteer, call Katie Haws at (218) 308-2641 or email

If you are in the area, give her a call...sounds like a lovely way to spend the day!

PLEASE visit Pam LaPier's diary to find out how you can help the Gulf now and in the future. We don't have to be idle! And thanks to Crashing Vor and Pam LaPier for working on this!

Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:

6-12-11 12:51 PM Gulf Watchers Sunday - Challenging Deepwater Permits - BP Catastrophe AUV #528 Lorinda Pike
6-10-11 07:07 PM Gulf Watcher's Block Party WTF? Edition Phil S 33
6-09-11 06:17 AM Gulf Watchers Thursday - BP's Russian Arctic deal dead - BP Catastrophe AUV #527 peraspera
6-07-11 02:29 PM Gulf Watchers Tuesday - Dispersant may have done more harm than good? - BP Catastrophe AUV #526 shanesnana
The last Mothership has links to reference material.

Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

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