NALCO, makers of Corexit: “Corexit is a simple blend of six well-established, safe ingredients that biodegrade, do not bioaccumulate and are commonly found in popular household products.“
The official story claims 1.8 million gallons of Corexit was used in the Gulf of Mexico. Independent reports show up to 40 million, and that was a year ago – Corexit use has not stopped yet! Read Dr Riki Ott’s letter to the EPA about this. Video: Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail:
(Portions from The Telegraph September 8, 2011, with *additions* by editors of this blog:)
The energy giant has sprayed 1.8m gallons of Corexit into the sea to break up the oil released when its Deepwater Horixon rig exploded and sank, killing 11 men.
But the practice was strongly criticised over a lack of scientific studies into it effects and the manufacturer’s reluctance to reveal the product’s chemical make-up.
*The nonprofit environmental law group Earthjustice, in July of 2010, filed a lawsuit in federal court to force the EPA to release all available information about the dispersants that were being dumped in large quantities into the Gulf of Mexico. Here is the result:
Potential Impact on Human Health
Of the 57 chemical ingredients, 5 are linked to cancer: 1 is a possible human carcinogen, 1is a likely human carcinogen, 1 caused cancer in tests on rats, 1 caused cancer in animal tests with unknown relevance to humans, and 1 causes effects that can later lead to cancer in humans.
33 chemicals are potential, suspected, or known skin irritants and toxins. Effects include
slight skin irritation, skin sensitization, skin burns, and rash.
33 chemicals are potential, suspected, or known eye irritants. Effects include slight eye
irritation, corrosion, permanent eye damage, and blindness.
11 chemicals are suspected or potential respiratory toxins or irritants.
10 chemicals are suspected kidney toxins.
8 chemicals are suspected reproductive
toxins or have been shown to cause adverse
effects to reproduction in test animals.
7 chemicals are suspected liver toxins.
6 chemicals are suspected neurotoxins.
5 chemicals are suspected to be toxic to the immune system.
4 chemicals are suspected blood toxins.
3 chemicals are associated with asthma.
1 chemical is a suspected to be toxic to the endocrine system.
Potential Impact on Marine Environment
8 chemicals are suspected or known to be toxic to aquatic organisms.
5 chemicals are suspected to have a moderate acute toxicity to fish.
4 chemicals possibly adsorb on suspended solids or sediment and thereby pose a greater threat of entering the food chain through consumption by marine organisms.
1 chemical has a high potential for bioaccumulation.
Corexit makers imply it’s as harmless as baby powder:
“Corexit is a simple blend of six well-established, safe ingredients that biodegrade, do not bioaccumulate and are commonly found in popular household products.” read more here*
The class action suit related to Corexit could potentially unleash a new wave of litigation, as BP already faces more than 300 claims over economic hardship, environmental damage and alleged safety breaches.
It has been filed in Alabama against BP and the chemical’s maker, Nalco, by Glynis Wright and Janille Turner, two Gulf Coast residents, alleging that Corexit 9500 is “four times more toxic than sweet crude oil”.
They are seeking compensation for “negligence and wanton misconduct, as well as nuisance, trespass, battery and medical monitoring”.
The claimants also argue that “the toxic dispersants were used deliberately to lessen the financial burden on the defendants and lessen public reaction to the oil spill”.
Scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory last week found that the substance has now “probably” entered the food chain following tests on crab larvae.
However, little is known about the consequences of releasing the chemical on such a large scale.
A safety sheet produced by Nalco concludes that Corexit’s “human hazard potential is low” but also admits that “no toxicity studies have been conducted on this product”.
The same document notes that while ingestion is “not a likely route of exposure” the chemical “may cause nausea and vomiting [and] can cause chemical pneumonia if aspirated into lungs”.
Corexit did not pass tests in the UK and was banned from being used to tackle oil spills in 1998. However, it was approved for use by the US Environmental Protection Agency, after BP argued that this was the only suitable chemical to help get rid of
The class action suit is being handled by Beasley Allen, the law firm that extracted $11.8bn (£7.4bn) from ExxonMobil over its Alaskan oil spill – later reduced to $2.5bn.
The firm has also filed a number of suits in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana seeking compensation for economic hardship caused by the spill, including businesses losing revenue and homeowners who have lost value on their properties.
“BP is using these dispersants at an unprecedented rate not seen in other oil disasters,” said Rhon Jones, head of Beasley Allen’s toxic torts division.
“What you are seeing is a company that is doing anything to keep the oil out of sight and out of mind. They are using these chemicals close to the shore, and predictably, people are starting to feel the effects.”
A group of scientists led by Dr Susan Shaw of the Marine Environmental Research Institute has opposed the use of the chemical on the grounds that its effects are unknown.
“We believe that Corexit dispersants, in combination with crude oil, pose grave health risks to marine life and human health, and threaten to deplete critical niches in the Gulf food web that may never recover,” she said.
A BP spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, but emphasised that the use of all dispersants was approved by America’s National Incident Command and the EPA.
The latest controversies over BP’s use of dispersants has put a dampener on government scientists’ declaration that 75pc of oil in the Gulf is now gone. And it is another headache for the oil giant’s lawyers as they fight a tenfold increase in legal action following the spill.
BP was also hit with an unrelated $10bn suit in Houston last week linked to the alleged leak of chemicals at its Texas City refinery in April and May.
Local media in Texas reported on Friday that 3,400 people queued round the block of the Houston law firm handling the case to join the 2,200 existing claimants in the action.
*Watch Corexit protest and BP’s response*:
- Impact of Gulf Spill’s Underwater Dispersants Is Examined (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Dispersants Used on BP Spill Contain Chemicals Associated with Cancer: New Report (treehugger.com)
- Dispersants Used in BP Gulf Oil Spill Linked to Cancer (alternet.org)
- Ecolab to Buy Nalco, a Chemical Treatment Company, for $5 Billion (dealbook.nytimes.com)