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Gulf Oil Spill: BP Trying To Hide Millions of Gallons of Toxic Oil?

BP Embraces Exxon’s Toxic Dispersant, Ignores Safer Alternative

It has been confirmed that the dispersal agent being used by BP and the government is Corexit 9500, a solvent originally developed by Exxon and now manufactured by Nalco Holding Company of Naperville, IL.  Their stock took a sharp jump, up more than 18% at its highest point of the day today, after it was announced that their product is the one being used in the Gulf.  Nalco’s CEO, Erik Frywald, expressed their commitment to “helping the people and environment of the Gulf Coast recover as rapidly as possible.”  It may be that the best way to help  would be to remove their product from the fray.  Take a look at some of the facts about Corexit 9500:

A report written by Anita George-Ares and James R. Clark for Exxon Biomedical Sciences, Inc. entitled “Acute Aquatic Toxicity of Three Corexit Products: An Overview” states that “Corexit 9500, Corexit 9527,  and Corexit 9580 have moderate toxicity to early life stages of fish, crustaceans and mollusks (LC50 or EC50 – 1.6 to 100 ppm*).  It goes on to say that decreasing water temperatures in lab tests showed decreased toxicity, a lowered uptake of the dispersant.  Unfortunately, we’re going to be seeing an increase in temperatures, not a decrease.  Amongst the other caveats is that the study is species-specific, that other animals may be more severely affected, silver-sided fish amongst them.

Oil is toxic at 11 ppm while Corexit 9500 is toxic at only 2.61 ppm; Corexit 9500 is four times as toxic as the oil itself.  Sure, a lot less of it is being introduced, but that’s still a flawed logical perspective, because it’s not a “lesser of two evils” scenario.  BOTH are going into the ocean water.

The lesser of two evils seems to be a product called Dispersit, manufactured by Polychem, a division of U.S. Polychemical Corporation.  In comparison, water-based Dispersit is toxic at 7.9-8.2 ppm; Dispersit holds about one third of the toxicity that Corexit 9500 presents.  Dispersit is a much less harmful water-based product which is both EPA approved and the U.S. Coast Guard’s NCP list.  So why isn’t it being used?

We spoke with Bruce Gebhardt at Polychem Marine Products, asked him if Dispersit was being used in the Gulf Oil Spill situation.  “Very little,” he replied.  When asked why, the impression was that the government had used Corexit 9500 in the past, and was going with what they know — no matter how dangerous that might prove to be.

Dispersit has a demonstrated effectiveness of 100% on the lighter South Louisiana crude, and 40% on Pruhoe Bay’s heavier crude.  Exxon’s Corexit 9500 is just 55% effective on SL and 55% effective on PB.  On an average, Dispersit is 70% effective, and may prove 100% effective, while 9500 is an average of 50% effective, with a maximum effective use of just 55%.  Corexit 9500 is a harsh petroleum-based solvent which is dangerous to people and sea life.  Dispersit’s human health effect is “slight to none.”  Whether or not a dispersal agent is a wise move, the question remaining unanswered is: Why is Corexit 9500 is being used at all, when the water-based Dispersit is available, markedly more effective and less toxic?   Follow the money.

Dispersal of the oil does not eliminate it, nor does it decrease the toxicity of the oil.  It just breaks it up into small particles, where it becomes less visible.  It’s still there, spewing toxicity at an even greater rate (due to higher surface area.)  But now it’s pretty much impossible to skim or trap or vacuum or even soak up at the shoreline, because most of it will never make it to the shoreline.  Instead, that toxic crude oil AND the dispersant will be spread all over the ocean’s waters.   This is why introducing such a product into the crude oil as it comes out from the pipe is a very bad idea for the ocean.

It may not be pretty, but if the oil makes it to the shore, it can be soaked up, cleaned up.  To “disperse” it means it will NEVER be cleaned up.  It will just stay out there, polluting and poisoning the ocean, her inhabitants, and all the food we take from it.  It’s unwise to be using Corexit 9500 at all, but introducing it to the oil as it leaves the broken pipe is approaching madness.  Mr. Gebhardt agrees that the oil should be contained, and what has been leaked should be allowed to come to shore where it can be removed from the ocean by less toxic means.

BP’s use of Corexit 9500 on the oil before it rises to the surface seems to be a deliberate attempt to mask the poison, to cover up that it continues to flow out from the ocean’s floor, while making it impossible to recover.  In short, BP and Exxon want to spread the toxic oil throughout the oceans of the world, pollute everywhere, rather than allow it to be seen coming to shore where BP would have to pay for its containment and clean-up.  It’s our job to keep them from getting away with sweeping this ugly mess under the surface.


Going Green: Research, Editorial, News, and Opinion Submitted to the Protect The Ocean Blog by John Taylor

81 replies
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  1. James17 says:

    As for the petition, I signed first thing when I came across it. That will be sent to others and from there I hope that it will get many signers to send it on to other contacts.

    One thing that is being said now about drilling to relieve the pressure to cap this blow out, is that it will be August before it is finished. A BP executive said that would be the end of August, not the first as some news reports are stating. This is day 40 with the possibility of 90 more days which is more then twice as long and a total of 130 days spewing oil into the Gulf with BP saying that it might not work like the other failed efforts. If that is the case, even dumb David (posted the 19th) might question his comment with a new one with perspective about a few little fishes and a couple of dead people.

    Worldwide responses from others that work or have worked in the oil industry offered assistance as soon as they heard about the well blow out. It is to late to say this, but as soon as there is any disaster any place on the globe, assistance from all those that have the expertise and knowledge in helping those affected should be accepted. Those leaders in government offices that are affected by disaster and overwhelmed by the magnitude should be quick to allow all who offer help to come to the assistance of the nation affected, even when the offer to assist comes from a country that the one affected is at odds with.

    Again it is too late to say something else that should have been done, but when those living on the Gulf coast asked for certain things to be done immediately, the response from Mr. Obama should have been, “Yes. I am giving the order for your request as the number one issue to be acted upon immediately.”

    Mr. Obama’s disregard to make a disaster or the potential of a disaster his top priority to save lives and the environment makes me in doubt that when any other disaster should affect the US that his response will be slow in coming to the needs of those affected.

  2. Holly says:

    Thanks for the article from Scientific American on microbes. Organisms are so complex. Bioremediation often backfires. Potential loss of oxygen devoured by exponential growth in the naturally occuring bacteria, could cause a dead-zone in certain layers of the ocean in that area, as the article explains. Other complications could result as well. As someone posted, getting an international team to study all of this is important. The EPA moves too slow, and the DOI hasn’t won the trust of many hearts for their stewardship. The NSF seems to have less bureaucracy bulk. BP should make a noteworthy contribution/appeal for less encumbered help.

  3. olde reb says:

    It would be an easy matter to construct a large C-clamp with a large driven 8-10 inch screw or a hydraulic cylinder to crush the 21 inch steel pipe and pinch off the flow from the 21 inch pipe BP wants to cut off.

  4. peter sanders says:

    To Whom It May Concern:
    Here is a copy of some of the pertinent info. from the MSDS sheet for Corexit 9500, manufactured by Nalco, which is the principal oil dispersant being applied to the Gulf spill.

    COREXIT® 9500
    (800) 424-9300 (24 Hours) CHEMTREC




    COMPANY IDENTIFICATION : Nalco Energy Services, L.P.
    P.O. Box 87
    Sugar Land, Texas

    EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBER(S) : (800) 424-9300 (24 Hours) CHEMTREC

    0 = Insignificant 1 = Slight 2 = Moderate 3 = High 4 = Extreme


    Our hazard evaluation has identified the following chemical substance(s) as hazardous. Consult Section 15 for the
    nature of the hazard(s).

    Hazardous Substance(s) CAS NO % (w/w)
    Distillates, petroleum, hydrotreated light 64742-47-8 10.0 – 30.0
    Propylene Glycol 57-55-6 1.0 – 5.0
    Organic sulfonic acid salt Proprietary 10.0 – 30.0

    Nalco Energy Services, L.P. P.O. Box 87 • Sugar Land, Texas 77487-0087 • (281)263-7000
    For additional copies of an MSDS visit nalco . com and request access
    5 / 10


    APPEARANCE Clear Hazy Amber

    ODOR Hydrocarbon

    SPECIFIC GRAVITY 0.95 @ 60 °F / 15.6 °C
    DENSITY 7.91 lb/gal
    pH (100 %) 6.2
    VISCOSITY 177 cps @ 32 °F / 0 °C 70 cps @ 60 °F / 15.6 °C @ 104 °F / 40 °C
    VISCOSITY @ 32 °F / 0 °C @ 60 °F / 15.6 °C 22.5 cst @ 104 °F / 40 °C
    POUR POINT < -71 °F / < -57 °C
    BOILING POINT 296 °F / 147 °C
    VAPOR PRESSURE 15.5 mm Hg @ 100 °F / 37.8 °C

    Note: These physical properties are typical values for this product and are subject to change.


    Stable under normal conditions.

    Hazardous polymerization will not occur.


    Contact with strong oxidizers (e.g. chlorine, peroxides, chromates, nitric acid, perchlorate, concentrated oxygen,
    permanganate) may generate heat, fires, explosions and/or toxic vapors.

    Under fire conditions: Oxides of carbon, Oxides of sulfur


    No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product.

    This product is not expected to be a sensitizer.

    The complete material data safety sheet is available online. I republish it here in the interest of public information because the use of this chemical is well and truly in the public domain (and so should be safety data).
    yours truly,
    pete sanders – chemistry student at a community college in Washington State

  5. Louis-Philippe Clermont says:

    You are encouraging the use of Dispersit… lol (how much $$$ did you receive?)
    Anyway, there’s is a lot to learn from that spill. The use of dispersant should be discarded once and for all.

  6. Larry says:

    Please forgive me for my lack of computer knowledge, because you will have to look this site up yourself, unless the website addition at the bottom works. Then PLEASE watch the ECOSAFE Overview on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-UIMyBaCOY then contact your senators, congress, governors and who ever else you can think of to get this environmentally safe product used to save our seas, environment & economy.
    I found out about this and the fact that other countries around the world are using it for their “OIL SLUDGE” & “OIL CONTAMINATION” problems. Why is this being “DENIED” if it is environmentally safe? The worst it can do is not work, but if it didn’t work other countries wouldn’t be using it! Our government doesn’t work, and it is still being used! We are “WE THE PEOPLE” and “WE THE PEOPLE” need to take control before it’s to late.

  7. Paul Berry says:

    OK, so I Google “coexit”, not “corexit”, a one letter error on the substance at the center of the largest environmental controversy of all time, and Google asks me: “did you mean coexist?” Must be its really no problem at all. EPA chief should go down.

  8. sarah says:

    Tragedy that is what has happened to all people in all lands, this BP oil spill will effect every single person on every single contenant, and they should be held accountable to the fullest exstent. Also the fact that BP is making the problem worse by using this coexit 9500, they are completely incompentent, and based on the laws in the United States, this Company should be taken over all there assets confiscated, and all there executives be arrested, and jailed for corruption, and destruction of Property. The Laws are fairly specific. Stop playing games send in the Military, bring in your best scientist, and water way specialist including logistics, and stop this thing. We can not wait another minute. Get on the phone call evey representive as thou you live right on the Gulf and tell them to bring in the Military NOW. Find a solution. BP is incompetent and can not handle this/

  9. Bob W says:

    Legal action needs to be enacted against BP fast. With all there wisdom they have made a mess. Toxic dispersant, oil sinking so people can’t see it or clean it up. If BP really cared do you think this would have happened? Just the actions that happened on the oil platform proves otherwise. It’s like putting the lumber industry in charge of all the forests.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Here’s a list of what is reported to be the chemical components in Corexit: […]

  2. […] “BP Embraces Exxon’s Toxic Dispersant, Ignores Safer Alternative,” Protect the Ocean. […]

  3. […] ass for lying about the existence of oil plumes after using half of the world’s supply of COREXIT. Then beat him down again for sending teams of people intocommunities along the Gulf Coast with no […]

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