Gulf Oil Spill: PTO Stonewalled; EPA, USCG and Senators All Refusing To Answer Solvent Questions

As some of you may have noticed, BP elected to resume the use of the solvents they describe as dispersing agents the same day that their first containment dome failed.  Needless to say, this alarmed us greatly.  We questioned how long they would stop using the toxic chemicals, but were dismayed and disappointed that no one in the government is stopping them from doing it.  If anyone else was to intentionally pour even one 55 gallon barrel of that stuff into the water, he’d be led away in handcuffs (and rightly so).  Yet there’s BP out there dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of it into waters 50 miles offshore, and nobody is saying a word to them about it?  Congress is grilling for blame on the cause of the spill, but nobody’s telling them to stop making matters worse by using those solvents!

We called the EPA.  They told us to call the U.S. Coast Guard.  We did.  Twice yesterday, and then again today.  That wasted half an hour and netted promises that they would walk the message over to the EPA’s desk.  No return call has been received from the EPA.  At this point, it becomes pretty clear that they’re not going to call back.  We’re asking questions they don’t have good answers for.  Contacts who promised answers included a woman named Connie Carroll who claimed to be with the Coast Guard.  (We didn’t ask for names the first two times, expecting that the USCG would do as they said.)

We placed a call to Senator Bill Nelson‘s office, but were given bureaucratic run-around.  A number of tweets and phone calls to Senator Mark Udall‘s office were not answered or yielded similarly empty rhetoric and promises that they’d get the note to the senators.   Why is it that nobody wants to talk about this huge elephant in the living room?  Where is the transparency?

Earlier calls to the USCG’s media line earned the insistence that the Coast Guard was utilizing “a dispersal agent which the EPA has approved.”  When it was pointed out that the approval was for coastal cleanup only, not for use 50 miles offshore and 5000 feet down, Ms. Connie Carroll reiterated that the EPA had approved the use.   We contend that the EPA cannot rightly approve Corexit for any such purpose and method without extensive testing  and due process.  Even still BP admits that they don’t know what the impact will be, making it highly unlikely that the EPA could or would have approved Corexit 9500 (or any other variation) for use offshore like this.  But the EPA is declining to respond and calls placed to them are just circled back to sending us to the USCG’s media line.

It’s a fair and reasonable question.  When a company and our government starts pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals known to be toxic to both humans and animals (and certainly not healthy for flora either,) it’s fair to demand to know why they’re doing it.  It’s fair to point out that it’s being done in violation of federal law that prohibits the intentional release of such harsh chemicals into the water.  So why couldn’t we get any answers?

Yet another call, placed at about 2:30 MST, yielded a conversation with John Crabtree, a BP employee, who claims that the use of the solvent was discontinued again some time yesterday.  He went on to say “hopefully after the Top Hat is in place this weekend, there will be no need to talk about it (Corexit’s use) again.”.  We hope so too, Mr. Crabtree.  For the sake of the ocean and her inhabitants, we really do.  At this point, though, BP’s record doesn’t make that statement very promising, and one Top Hat isn’t going to solve the problem entirely, is it?

The use of solvents at the leak site was discontinued before the previous containment dome was attempted.  Now it has been discontinued again, in preparation for the Top Hat installation.  Could it be that the only reason they’re discontinuing it is because the substance makes it more dangerous or difficult for their crews to work?  We can all hope that BP doesn’t elect to use solvents in the open ocean again, but there’s plenty of reason to remain guarded at this point.

When the dust settles and the recriminations continue, we would like to know why the E.P.A. turned a blind eye to the use of this solvent in the open ocean.  We want to know for sure that it will never be done again.  We want to know that the existing state and federal laws prohibiting dumping solvents into the ocean will be enforced… and we want to know why it is so hard to get straight answers.

In today’s press conference, Administrator Lisa Jackson, who is in charge of the cleanup group from the EPA, was asked why they didn’t use a different product that was available which was more effective, less toxic, and also on the Approved list.  Her answer failed to address the question.  She said that Corexit was what they had on stock so it was what they used… and then went on to state that the EPA has just ordered 500,000 more gallons of the same toxic, noxious solvent which they’re already allowing to be injected into the open oceans, the same vile oil-based solvents that arrived at the grassland shores yesterday, which are about 4 times as toxic as the oil itself.  The unanswered question remains, Administrator Jackson:

Why are you not using the less harmful, more effective water-based product, Dispersit?

We The People demand answers.


1 reply
  1. John Taylor says:

    Update: It’s actually 800,000 gallons, according to a Congressional aid, that the EPA has ordered. Another in total, then, 1,200,000 gallons of toxic solvent. Brilliant!


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