BP cleanup crews used special chemicals to break down the oil particles in the water. This is a necessary and appropriate part of returning the gulf to normal. However, among the many chemical dispersants that BP could have chosen, they selected a high toxic chemical known as Corexit. After airplanes dumped over 700,000 gallons of Corexit into the gulf, everyone felt better because the oil was no longer visible. However, it was not widely advertised that Corexit actually creates poisonous plumes under the water that are hundreds of square miles wide, which kill all life in their path at 3,000 feet below sea level. In these plumes – which are currently estimated to be about the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined – nothing that requires oxygen can survive. J. Speer-Williams described these plumes in his article, ‘Corexit is Killing the Gulf’:
“These plumes are hundreds of square miles of poisonous, oily micro-particles that go unseen by satellites, cameras, and the naked eyes of the world. They kill all life in their path at 3,000 feet below sea level. This is death to all life within the fragile Gulf Coast ecosystems that are impacted by these Corexit plumes. Plant, animal, and marine life will die as these oily, Corexit plumes slip their broken oily gunk well under protective booms…
Crabtree’s justification for such an insane, criminal act was that their Corexit would drive the oil well below the water’s surface, thus keeping it away from coastal shorelines. So instead of removing the oil, BP decided to make the oil even more toxic, and drive it deep into the ocean where it can never be retrieved, but will kill all marine life in its path.
The strange thing about it is that Corexit ranks far above other dispersants in toxicity and far below them in effectiveness in handling this type of crude. A product called Dispersit, for example, is nearly twice as effective and between half and a third as toxic as Corexit, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. As Paul Quinlan has observed in the New York Times:
“Of 18 dispersants whose use EPA has approved, 12 were found to be more effective on southern Louisiana crude than Corexit, EPA data show. Two of the 12 were found to be 100 percent effective on Gulf of Mexico crude, while the two Corexit products rated 56 percent and 63 percent effective, respectively. The toxicity of the 12 was shown to be either comparable to the Corexit line or, in some cases, 10 or 20 times less, according to EPA.”
So why did BP choose Corexit in the first place? If one knows anything about BP, the answer should come as no surprise. BP is buying the chemical from Nalco Co., whose current leadership includes executives from BP. The more effective and less polluting dispersants are made by Nalco’s competitors. “It’s a chemical that the oil industry makes to sell to itself, basically,” said Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife.