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Scant Evidence That Dispersants Help in Oil Spill Cleanup
Not only has BP “spilled” an estimated 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — the company has also pumped in more than a million gallons of the dispersant Corexit. However a new report in Chemical & Engineering News claims that the evidence supporting BP’s all-in gamble on Corexit is thinner than an oil slick.
In 2005, the National Research Council looked at three decades of research into dispersants’ effectiveness and found that they sometimes helped, sometimes made things worse, and occasionally they had no effect. BP’s choice to use the Nalco dispersant exclusively also appears unfounded. The EPA has approved the use of 81 dispersants and has asked BP to use less Corexit.
To take but one example, Gentek makes a biodegradable dispersant, SC-1000, that’s designed to herd oil away from shorelines and toward absorbent booms. Use of Corexit, meanwhile, is expressly forbidden within three full miles of the shore. Couldn’t SC-1000 be used in addition to Corexit? Gentek president Kim Kristoff has made more than 100 calls trying to interest BP in his product. The oil “will eventually come to shore,” he told C&EN. “What is their plan to get rid of it?”
That’s shaping up to be the question of the year.
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