US not satisfied with BP work with oil dispersants

24 May 2010 23:43  [Source: ICIS news]

Plane sprays dispersantsWASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US officials said on Monday they are not satisfied that BP has adequately examined oil dispersants that are less toxic than those now being used in the Gulf of Mexico spill and have ordered independent testing to find better alternatives.

Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson told a press conference that she also has ordered a reduction in the surface applications of the dispersant now being used, in part because a subsea injection of the dispersant, Corexit, is proving more effective.

Jackson said that BP’s injection of the dispersant at the point of the leak 5,000 feet below the surface has produced “overall positive results with limited environmental impact at this time”.

She said that because the use of the dispersants at the well leak was proving effective, she has ordered a cut-back in the spraying of dispersants on the surface to break up slicks.

“We should use no more dispersants at the surface than absolutely necessary,” she said.

She added that the ordered cutback in surface use should reduce the overall application of dispersants by 50% or even by 75%.

She said she has ordered the reduction in surface applications because “we still don’t know the environmental impact of dispersants”.  She said that no one had ever envisioned the use of so much dispersant, and that neither EPA or other sources can know what impact it will have.

Jackson said that she had asked BP on Thursday last week to look for alternative and less toxic dispersants than Corexit and to report back to EPA within 24 hours.  She said BP did respond by Friday night, “but their response was not satisfactory”.

BP said in its response that it believed Corexit was still the best available dispersant.

Jackson said, “We are not satisfied that BP has analysed other dispersant options, so today we are calling on them to continue the search for other dispersants.”

In addition, “As a consequence of BP’s response, EPA will conduct our own tests to determine the least toxic dispersants possible”.

She said that BP’s response to EPA’s demand for more analysis and testing of alternative dispersants appeared to be influenced by the fact that BP has a supply of Corexit “and for that reason did not want to explore other options”.

Jackson said that if EPA identifies a better dispersant, the agency will order its deployment.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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