UpdateBP eyes less-toxic dispersants for Gulf oil spill

20 May 2010 22:36  [Source: ICIS news]

(Adds updates throughout)

BP eyes new dispersantsHOUSTON (ICIS news)--BP is evaluating four alternative dispersants for the Gulf oil spill after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told the company to find a less toxic product than Nalco’s Corexit, BP said on Thursday.

BP said that information about the dispersants would soon be made available to the public, but it declined to comment further.

However, Spring Valley, New York-based US Polychemical said that it had received a large order from BP for its Dispersit SPC 1000 dispersant, according to The New York Times.

The company was planning on raising its production to 20,000 gal/day in the next few days, and eventually to as much as 60,000 gal/day, according to the report.

US Polychemical could not be reached for immediate comment.

The move to change dispersants came after the EPA said it told BP to find a less toxic alternative 
within 24 hours and use it within 72 hours of its submission to the agency.

BP had been using Nalco’s Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A in an effort to disperse surface and underwater oil plumes.

The two Corexit formulations were banned in the UK more than 10 years ago, and there was growing concern about the effect of the dispersants on marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.

While the Nalco dispersant was on the EPA's approved list, the agency said it was concerned because BP was using it in unprecedented amounts and that much was unknown about use of dispersants under water. As such, the EPA asked BP to use the "least toxic product authorised for use".

If BP would not identify available alternatives, it would then have to provide the EPA with a detailed description of the alternative dispersants it investigated and why it believed those products did not meet required standards.

Nalco, which earlier in the week said the use of its dispersant in Gulf spill efforts had added $40m (€32m) in sales, said that the EPA’s toxicity data indicated no significant effects from its dispersant on marine life and said that it welcomed the test of any alternatives.

Oil began leaking from the offshore well after a 20 April explosion at the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon offshore rig killed 11 workers.

BP, which has credited chemical dispersants with making a significant impact in its efforts to break up accumulations of heavy oil, said this week that overall cleanup costs had reached $625m.

Additional reporting by Ben DuBose

($1 = €0.81)

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