Offshore Drilling Bill Needs Environmental Safeguards - Part 3
PART 3 - MANDATORY USE OF WATER BASED NON TOXIC DISPERSANT
Despite a forty year lead time between the two major offshore oil spills of the century, the Obama Administration was ill equipped to handle the Gulf Oil crisis. Worse, it let BP with its doubtful track record of safety and environmental protection lead the operations and dictate the course of mitigation, from start to finish, including the crucial selection of dispersant. Like its predecessor, the Union Oil Company in the California spill, BP too used easy mitigation techniques which reduced its cost and spread the risk on to the environment.
Oil spills are not new to the Gulf of Mexico, and several large mishaps due to capsizing platforms and explosions have occurred during the last forty years. Petroleum based toxic chemical dispersants to break up the oil slicks have been often used before, but never on this unprecedented scale, as over 2 million gallons of Corexit 9527 and 9500 have been dumped into the sea in roughly 100 days. NALCO’s Corexit dispersants have caused serious environmental concerns before and have been shunned even 30 years ago, when few alternatives existed. With the arrival of the highly effective water based dispersants a decade ago and rigorous testing and approval by the EPA, it was presumed that the days of petroleum based toxic dispersants were over.
However, the Gulf oil spill proved that all wrong. BP used stockpiled Corexit 9527 dispersant liberally during the first week of the spill, before EPA understood what was happening. After the large-scale air-dropping of toxic chemicals was reported, EPA protested weakly. BP went ahead undeterred and even wrested major concessions in getting the highly toxic petroleum based dispersant Corexit 9527 and 9500 approved, overruling the initial objections by EPA through the use of high level pressure tactics.Continued on the next page