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Gulf Oil Spill: We Must Report an Environmental EMERGENCY!

As most know by now, BP has been spraying a solvent called Corexit 9500 onto the ocean’s waters.  By now you probably also know that many question the wisdom of this, and are concerned about the toxicity of that solvent.  Well they should be, since it’s 3-4 times more toxic than the oil itself, makes the oil more effectively toxic by causing the oil to have a larger area exposed to ocean water, and because in our opinion IT IS ILLEGAL TO USE IT AS IT HAS BEEN EMPLOYED UNDERWATER.

This chemical was only ever approved for coastal clean-up.  It was not tested, nor approved, for release into the open ocean some 50 miles from shore and nearly a mile down beneath the surface.  What is this, then, that they’ve reportedly poured out 400,000 gallons of it already, and industry sources indicate the EPA has purchased an additional 800,000 gallons to continue polluting our oceans with?  The simple fact is that at least some of that is a federal crime, and if we witness it, we are obligated to report it!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

An environmental emergency is a sudden threat to the public health or the well-being of the environment, arising from the release or potential release of oil, radioactive materials, or hazardous chemicals into the air, land, or water.

Examples of environmental emergencies include:

* oil and chemical spills,
* radiological and biological discharges, and
* accidents causing releases of pollutants

These emergencies may occur from transportation accidents, events at chemical or other facilities using or manufacturing chemicals, or as a result of natural or man-made disaster events. If you are involved in or witness an environmental emergency that presents a sudden threat to public health, you must call the National Response Center at: 1-800-424-8802. “

It would seem, then, that we are obligated to report the intentional release (and potential release) of the chemical solvent known as Corexit into the offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Even if one considers the action a Violation, we are to report it.  According to the EPA’s site,

“An environmental violation occurs when an activity or an existing condition does not comply with an environmental law or regulation. Environmental violations can include (but are not limited to):

* smoke or other emissions from local industrial facilities;
* tampering with emission control or air conditioning systems in automobiles;
* improper treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes;
* exceedances of pollutant limits at publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants;
* unpermitted dredging or filling of waters and wetlands;
* any unpermitted industrial activity; or
* late-night dumping or any criminal activity including falsifying reports or other documents.”

According to pages 11-14 of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) Product Schedule Technical Notebook, updated May, 2010, the only application authorized for use or release of Corexit 9500A (or 9057A) involves spraying of oil located upon the surface waters by boat or airplane.  THERE IS NO AUTHORIZATION TO UTILIZE THESE CHEMICALS UNDER WATER.   In other words, intentional violation of the Federal law against releasing toxic chemicals into the environment.  It is furthermore advised that “The listing of a product on the NCP Product Schedule does not constitute approval of the product… This listing does NOT mean that EPA approves, recommends, licenses, certifies, or authorizes the use of [PRODUCT NAME] on an oil discharge. In other words, there isn’t even a specific authorization, except that the EPA has told BP they can use ANY chemical listed on the NCP for oil spills. What the EPA cannot do is to authorize it for a use other than it has been cleared for, or an application other than has been prescribed by the NCP Notebook.

Any changes to this plan, the approval of chemicals, etc., must be properly investigated, studies and tests performed, and then it must be published on the Federal Register.  Additionally, any attempt to permit some exemption would also be required to allow for comments from the public.  So BP has been in violation of Federal law, specifically the Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Coast Guard and E.P.A. have both chosen to ignore that violation.  Furthermore, under the heading of Ocean Discharge Criteria, it states “(2) In any event where insufficient information exists on any proposed discharge to make a reasonable judgment on any of the guidelines established pursuant to this subsection no permit shall be issued under section 1342 of this title.” In other words, since there is no knowledge of the effects and impacts of releasing solvents under 5000 feet of water 50 miles offshore, there is no way that BP could have been issued a lawful permit to do so.

So why have we been stonewalled every time we ask about this or point out that it is not lawful, not approved for subsurface injection?  This is clearly illegal, an Environmental Violation, and, since it is so toxic, an Emergency as well.  Please, contact your legislators, and REPORT this violation/emergency to the EPA.  Require that they do their duty in stopping the perpetrators and arrest anyone who has done so or attempts to do so in the future.  This is our ocean water, our world, our lives that these people are playing Scientist with.  Lives are in the balance.  Stop them now!

Research, Editorial, and Opinion Submitted to the Protect The Ocean Blog by John Taylor

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