Monday, August 02, 2010

Congressman Edward Markey vs Oil Dispersant Usage

The Center believes that the oil dispersants used in the Gulf of Mexico was a bad solution to a worse problem. We believe that the Coast Guard and BP had no choice but to pump dispersants into the spillage if they were to prevent unprecedented oil slicks along coasts of Gulf states. We believe that EPA made a prudent decision in ordering BP end end use of Corexit and later to reduce use of dispersants to a minimum. In the real world, tough decisions have to be made. The Coast Guard and EPA did the very best that they could under the circumstances. And now Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA), left, is reviewing all of those decisions in order to make sure that such an accident will never lead to use of dispersants in this manner again.

Representative Edward Markey is examining the use of an unprecedented amount of dispersanat , what experts call an unprecedented amount of dispersant (about 1.8 million gallons, according to government figures) in Deepwater Horizon spill. Not only was it sprayed on the surface of the Gulf, it was also injected deep underwater where oil was shooting out of the leaking well from late April until the well was capped last month.

In its May directive, the EPA ordered BP to stop spraying dispersants onto the surface of the Gulf except in rare cases, for which BP was supposed to get government approval. According to an analysis by Mr. Markey's office, officials overseeing the oil-spill response from a command center in Houma, Louisana granted BP approval to apply the dispersants on more than 74 days following the EPA's order.
EPA claims that dispersant use dropped 72% between its May 26 directive and the time in mid-July when a cap was placed on the leaking well. Nalco Company makes Corexit 9500, the chief dispersant sprayed on the Gulf spill.

Mr. Markey contends that BP applied more of the chemicals than it had governmental permission for. BP believes its uses of dispersants throughout the spill were government-approved. The analysis by Mr. Markey's office also criticized what it called "discrepancies" between the amount of dispersant that BP got federal approvals to use on the surface of the Gulf and the amount that actually was applied.

Side note: We have wondered why a retired Coast Guard Admiral, Thad Allen, was enlisted to head the federal response to the spill instead of an enlisted Coast Guard Admiral? (WSJ, 8/1/2010)

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