U.S. EPA Enforces Antiquated Oil SPill Clean up Protocols
The outdated procedures cost Gulf Economy Billions in Losses
By Susan Aarde
The Real Agenda
January 23, 2012
23 Years of Denial
Much of what was being reported about in 2011 as the aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill has not covered an important point: Oil is still leakingi from the seabed floor BP well zone and millions of barrels are still submerged and residing in the water column–HOW WILL THE TOXIC GULF BE CLEANED UP
There are many ongoing blog and media reports about the aftermath from the spill and millions being spent on studies to find out how marine life, water and other mediums have been affected. Further, as recent as Sept 13, 2011 reports on numerous sightings of new oil slicks in the vicinity of the original BP Spill are bringing attention back to the area. Lab tests showing it to be BP oil finally forced the admittance by the responsible oil company that it was their oil. Sadly, none of this coverage brings to light the most crucial issue; continued use of dispersants which do not remediate the oil and hence do not relieve the continued toxic stress on the ecosystem with adverse economic and health effects to Gulf Coast residents. And this cycle of new oil surfacing and repeatedly spraying Corexit to disperse it, has proven to compound environmental damage for which BP and government agencies enforcing destructive protocols should be held financially accountable.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits there are “trade-offs” to using Corexit, however their explanation of these and why they favor its use on their website, are absurd. (See EPA Link)
The combined events of the BP Oil Spill and the application of this [outmoded] cleanup method (millions of gallons of Corexit(R)) resulted in high toxicity levels persisting in the GOM region until as recent as March 201lii – levels well above earlier official safety threshold standards set in 1999 which, for some unexplained reason, were raised by much higher percentiles within a few months after the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. [a means of blinding people from identifying potential public health and seafood contamination risks] .These toxicity levels are still adversely affecting human health and marine life in the region.
EPA and other federal agency statements announcing the clean up was successful and assuring the public that seafood was safe to consume and that the environment was safe to use were clearly premature and misrepresentative to the public, suggesting ineffective clean-up protocols and potential negligence on the part of the EPA. The most recent scientific data on this issue are fact-based, and those facts are now being reported inscientific literature.
More notably, BP had made formal requests to use bio remediation clean up technology to avoid these toxic trade-offs and initiated testing on a product called Oil Spill Eater IIiii (already approved and listed on EPA’s National Contingency Plan for Oil Spill Response) to replace Corexit. BP’s request, along with those from gulf state officials, including Governor Jindal of Louisiana, were denied by EPA and Regional Response Team officials. The EPA denial letter cited science that erroneously grouped this ready–to–deploy, proven clean up product with “questionable” remediation products examined. In a June 2010 EPA letter, BP’s official request was denied, (documentation relevant to this can be obtain upon request). Per Gulf Rescue Alliance sources BP’s Chief Council referenced that letter and stated in a recent meeting that their hands were tied where the use of bioremediation (OSE II ) was concerned – “BP is bound by it”—bound by the EPA mandate [to keep using Corexit]. Consequentially it is estimated that BP could have saved an estimated $36 billion in clean up costs if they had deployed the EPA approved alternative to Corexit.
Gulf Rescue Alliance (GRA) has voluminous documentation indicating the EPA arbitrarily blocked and continues to prevent the use of eco friendly bioremediation clean up technology in favor of Corexit despite ample science indicating it is fatally toxic to marine life and even humans.
Bottom line: Use of bioremediation could have saved BILLIONS in clean up costs and result in an end point to the disaster. (See Economic Comparison article) BP’s attempt to use an alternative is a significant point and the resultant damage caused by Corexit is proving to be quite concerning for escalating clean up costs.
We applaud Surfrider Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity for its recent action of filing suit against the EPA over the use of dispersants reinforcing the case that EPA oil spill cleanup response protocols are wholly inadequate.
While the EPA, NOAA and Coast Guard remain in denial and continue to roadblock the use of Bioremediation, perhaps this suit will open the door for permitting the deployment of safe and effective cleanup methods available and ready for use right now to stop the killing in the Gulf Waters. And if one had no regard for the marine life and saving the ecosystem, possibly the continued threat of loss in BP Stock value will incite action.
While allowing Nalco Holding Company, the manufacturer of Corexit, to use up their existing stockpiles in the country, the UK has banned the product from further subsequent use.
iiia simple lay term description of how OSE II works “Emulating Mother Nature” should be read. The Earth Organization (TEO) (a non-profit) working on locating safe and effective clean up measures for the Gulf vetted all products on the EPA national contingency plan lists and by process of elimination using a set of precise, scientific guidelines concluded the most immediate, swift, and effective option open for cleaning up the spill–without adding further toxic effects or introducing non-indigenous microbes to the waters –was OSE II. It was also the only company with current supplies and production capabilities to remediate a spill disaster of this magnitude. TEO’s research and other independent science reviews such as one from the Dept of Interior conclude OSE II is capable of swiftly addressing and remediating 100% of any spill in any environment.
Susan Aarde is a contributor from the Gulf Rescue Alliance, an independent coalition comprised of concerned scientists, medical experts, attorneys, seafood and tourism industry professionals, oil industry advisors, civic and government leaders, non-profits and citizens.