Target: Environmental Protection Agency
Goal: Stop treating oil spills with a substance that makes the spills even more toxic
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted studies leading it to claim that the substances Corexit 9527A and 9500A were safe for use in helping clean up oil spills by dispersing the oil. Their study showed the effect of mixing Corexit with the oil did not harm a species of shrimp and a species of fish who were exposed to the mixture. It was with this approval that Corexit was used in the wake of the BP oil spill when oil flowed continuously into the Gulf of Mexico for three months. Over 2 million gallons of Corexit were dumped into the gulf so that oil could degrade faster without reaching shore. However, a study published recently has shown that Corexit mixed with oil is in fact 52 times more toxic than oil alone.
The biologists who conducted the new study used oil from the original well spill and mixed it with Corexit. The dispersant decreases the size of the oil droplets overall, which makes it less visible, but also causes more harm by making the oil available to the small wildlife which form the planktonic ecosystem. The microscopic population known as rotifers exposed to this mixture in the study were affected by the toxicity in such a way that affects the entire marine food chain. Despite the fact that plankton populations recover relatively quickly, the harm that the mixture does to their eggs negatively affects the next generation.
Scientists have also pointed out that one species of fish and shrimp being unaffected by the dispersant is proof of nothing, as these chemical mixtures vary widely in their effect on different species. For example, others have found that some species of fish embryos are more adversely affected by the mixture than oil alone. Demand that the EPA begin exercising responsible practices that do not simply cover up environmental hazards with ineffectual quick-fixes. The use of substances like Corexit makes the issue worse, and needs to end immediately.
Dear Environmental Protection Agency,
In 2010, you cleared and encouraged the use of Corexit 9527A and 9500A on the BP Oil Spill in order to quicken the cleanup process. Your studies at the time claimed that the mixture of Corexit and oil was safe for the wildlife present in the waters. However, a recent study using the same ratios of oil and dispersant has shown that the mixture is actually 52 times more toxic than oil alone.
The planktonic food chain is particularly at risk. The dispersant’s effect, which merely breaks the oil down into smaller droplets, makes the oil more easily available to that level of marine wildlife for several generations. This news comes after other studies which have proven the dispersant to be extremely toxic to embryos of certain fish types – an issue resulting from the fact that chemical mixtures such as these have a varying range of effects when it comes to different species.
As the agency instructed to ensure the conservation of our environment, it is necessary that far more responsibility be exercised when studying potentially harmful substances and declaring them safe for use. Please stop any and all future use of Corexit.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ideum via Flickr