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Dispersants Make Oil Spills 52 Times more Toxic

A new study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, has found that the dispersants used to clean up oil spills actually make the entire situation much worse and cause far more damage to the environment than the crude oil itself.

As part of the clean up proceedings for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill more than 2 million gallons of the oil dispersants Corexit 9527A and 9500A were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico in order to break the oil up into tiny droplets; a move that is intended to speed up the degradation of the oil and prevent it from reaching shore.

The study has worryingly discovered that when Corexit is mixed with oil it becomes up to 52 times more toxic than the original oil on its own.

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Terry Snell, a biologist at Georgia Tech and co-author of the study, said that “there is a synergistic interaction between crude oil and the dispersant that makes it more toxic.” The dispersant works in as much as it makes the oil effectively disappear, but the microscopic particles that are left are “more toxic to the planktonic food chain.”

Snell explained that “the levels in the Gulf were toxic, and seriously toxic. That probably put a big dent in the planktonic food web for some extended period of time, but nobody really made the measurements to figure out the impact.”

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Plankton is the base food source of the ocean, the bottom of the food chain. If the population of plankton in the gulf is killed off enough then the population of larger animals will be effected, all the way up to whales.


The dispersants put the oil out of site. ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ The public forgot about the oil once they could no longer see it; but it doesn’t mean that it is gone, that the ocean is clean and safe for life.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Ann H Csonka on July 01 2013 said:
    @ Robert: "…they (our government) know exactly what "they" are doing! That was the intent sink the oil using Corexit. Does anyone know that BP had a contract with a company called mopsolutions… The mess had to be cleaned up quick, so they sunk it."

    Our Government DIRECTED BP to NOT USE COREXIT. BP continued to use it anyway – of course. WHY? BP’s fines were based on the amount of oil spilled. THINK. Who had the biggest reason to “disappear the evidence”? …with no serious concern for ongoing effects to Gulf seafloor/other ecosystems or long-term resource damage!! BP gained nothing except higher fines by mopping/salvaging oil.
    The reason for sinking it was NOT to ease concerns by quick cleanup. Scientists knew ezxaxtly the effets of Corexit.
    I really get tired of folks hanging blame on the government.
  • Tony K on May 19 2013 said:
    Robert. It's ok. It's just the web. But yes we all agree all is not right and all is not what it seems.
  • Robert on May 07 2013 said:
    Nick, do you have a hard time reading my post?
    I did not allude to the fact that corexit is not harmful! I was being facetious when I said
    "Mmmm corexit gulf shrimp."
    I've had my hands plenty oily and I know for a fact what
    I'm talking about, I don't need to tell you where you can still find oil do I?
    Don't have to be snide or cocky do you?
  • Nick s on May 07 2013 said:
    Next time Robert

    Come get your hands a lil oily before you go acting like you know what really is going on.
  • Nick s on May 07 2013 said:
    I call bullsh*t Robert. These Chemicals where very harmful. I know from first hand experience from being part of the bp clean up my self.
  • Robert on May 07 2013 said:
    Henry, they (our government) know exactly what "they"
    are doing! That was the intent sink the oil using Corexit. Does anyone know that BP had a contract with a
    company called mopsolutions which used all natural product to soak up oil in water, once the oil is soaked into the solution, it is picked up and the oil can be squeezed out and reused.
    Check this out yourself. The mess had to be cleaned up quick, so they sunk it.
    Don't you just love the commercials advertising how clean the gulf is and how wonderful the food is.
    Mmmm corexit gulf shrimp.
  • r3t0dd on May 07 2013 said:
    Has Joe Barton (R-Etard) apologized to BP for this article being published yet?
  • Frank on May 07 2013 said:
    Money talks! And we can not leave our dependence from oil, as the richest 1%want to keep their lifestyle
  • ChrisBijsters on May 07 2013 said:

    I know what they're doing. Making money. That's all that counts and as long as the public doesn't make too much of a fuss about it, destroying nature is not a problem.
  • @Henry on May 07 2013 said:
    You can't test for everything.
  • HenryPaul on May 07 2013 said:
    These are adults making these decisions. How did they not test this first? It makes you realise how stupid everything is when things such as this can be dealt with on a whim. Who actually knows what there doing?

Leave a comment

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