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Friday, May 28, 2010

Under the Sea Sick

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 4:15 PM

BP says its employee illnesses have nothing to do with chemical dispersants. Doctors say otherwise.

Want to know what this stuff can do? When a Cousteau gets involved, it’s serious business. Jacques’ grandson Philippe Cousteau Jr. was on Good Morning America (yikes — “Good morning! Toxic sludge with your coffee?”):

ABC Good Morning America reporter Sam Champion, who was along for the ride, was shocked and appalled at what he found.

"The entire water column is thick with this oil and chemical dispersant mix and it's absolutely disgusting," said Champion, "I think that this has got to be one of the most horrible things I've ever seen underwater."

Here’s the video:

You can clearly see oil forming chemical clouds of oil globules in the water column floating beneath the surface to eventually join the sea floor. (Read this to find out what happens next.) But Nalco, the chemical’s manufacturer, says its product (which contains ingredients that are kept a trade secret) is just "a simple blend of six well-established, safe ingredients that biodegrade, do not bioaccumulate and are commonly found in popular household products" and "do not contain carcinogens or reproductive toxins. All the ingredients have been extensively studied for many years and have been determined safe and effective by the EPA."

Sure, at the recommended doses. I mean, your doctor says pain relivers are safe at the prescribed amount, but I'm not sure what he'd think if you started mainlining at hundreds of times that prescription — which is exactly what BP did: inject thousands of gallons of chemical dispersants not only on the water’s surface but also directly into the leak source, a method that has no previous testing to be proven effective or safe. Per the EPA’s recommendations: "most effectively applied by aircraft, however, application with boat spray booms, boat fire monitors, and by hand held sprayers and back packs has been successfully done on a number of spills and trials" and at a "treatment rate of about 2 to 10 U.S. gallons per acre, or a dispersant to oil ratio of 1:50 to 1:10."

The EPA has demanded BP to scale back its use of the chemicals, but the damage is done.

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