EPA: BP Has 24 Hours to Find a Less Toxic Chemical Dispersant

Created: May 20, 2010 10:25 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Thought the massive quantities of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico were the only major threat to the country’s southeast coastal waters right now? Think again:

The Environmental Protection Agency informed BP officials late Wednesday that the company has 24 hours to choose a less toxic form of chemical dispersants to break up its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to government sources familiar with the decision, and must apply the new form of dispersants within 72 hours of submitting the list of alternatives.

The move is significant, because it suggests federal officials are now concerned that the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants could pose a significant threat to the Gulf of Mexico’s marine life. BP has been using two forms of dispersants, Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A, and so far has applied 600,000 gallons on the surface and 55,000 underwater.

So why is BP using Corexit? Well, BP has argued that it’s simply the most abundant dispersant out there. But there’s another reason that the oil giant might have chosen a more toxic, less effective dispersant: Corexit is manufactured by Nalco, which has board room ties to BP. Greenwire’s Paul Quinlan explains:

Critics say Nalco, which formed a joint venture company with Exxon Chemical in 1994, boasts oil-industry insiders on its board of directors and among its executives, including an 11-year board member at BP and a top Exxon executive who spent 43 years with the oil giant.