BP plans to stick with Corexit in US Gulf clean-up

23 May 2010 17:12  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--BP plans to stick with Nalco’s Corexit oil dispersant to clean up the Gulf of Mexico spill despite the US government’s directive to find a less toxic alternative, the company said in a letter released on Saturday.

“Based on the information that is available today, BP continues to believe that Corexit was the best and most appropriate choice at the time when the incident occurred, and that Corexit remains the best option for subsea application,” said chief operating officer Doug Suttles in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA told BP last week 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 Corexit to disperse oil on the surface and surface and underwater.

The two Corexit formulations in question 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.

Suttles said in his letter to the EPA that BP had found only five alternative products that met the agency’s toxicity criteria.

One of those alternatives, Sea Brat #4, contained a small amount of a chemical that may degrade to nonylphenol, a chemical that is potentially toxic and could remain in the environment for years, Suttles said.

“The manufacturer [Alabaster] has not had the opportunity to evaluate this product for those potential effects, and BP has not had the opportunity to conduct independent tests to evaluate this issue either,” Suttles said. He added BP learned of this issue after it applied for permission to use Sea Brat #4.

The president of Alabaster took issue with BP’s assessment, according to news reports.

However, BP said Corexit did not contain chemicals that could degrade to nonylphenol and that Corexit did not persist in the environment.

BP had 246,380 gallons of Corexit available and 100,000 gallons of Sea Brat #4, Suttles said. The company did not have a stockpile of the other alternatives, it said.

Oil began spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico after a 20 April explosion sank the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig.

For more on BP and Nalco visit ICIS company intelligence
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By: Brian Ford
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