Thursday, June 3, 2010

Relieve BP From Clean-Up Duty

Since the oil rig blowout in the gulf of Mexico on April 20th and subsequent gushing of tens of thousands of barrels of oil per day, BP has demonstrated their negligence in lack of preparedness for the blowout and their utter incompetence in dealing with its aftermath. Here, I address some troubling aspects of the botched response and suggest a simple solution: Relieve BP, send them the bill.

A mainstay of BP's response has been the use of oil dispersants. BP has already used about 1 million gallons of an oil dispersing chemical on the blowout, some applied directly to the broken wellhead and more sprayed on the ocean surface by aerial tankers. Dumping additional toxic chemicals to clean up toxic oil? Have they gone mad? First of all the goal of this approach is simply to hide the oil. It does not make it go away or clean it up in any way. In fact, scientists are saying dispersed oil is more toxic to fish. Additionally, the dispersants being used are not even good ones! According to EPA data, COREXIT dispersants rank far above dispersants made by competitors in terms of toxicity and far below them in effectiveness in dispersing southern Louisiana crude. Specifically, COREXIT 9500 ranked 13 of 18 in terms of effectiveness and more than 10 times more toxic to marine life than some of the 12 more effective ones. Ah, but when one looks into who makes COREXIT, one finds it is Nalco Co., whose current leadership includes executives from BP. The EPA ordered BP to stop using Corexit dispersants by May 23, but BP ignored the order and continues to use the COREXIT products, taking issue with EPA toxicity testing methods and stating they "have an inventory of 246,380 gallons of COREXIT that are available for immediate use, and the manufacturer is able to produce an additional 68,000 gallons/day, which is sufficient to meet all anticipated dispersant needs at this site.” BP clearly has a conflict of interest here and needs to be relieved of dispersal duty.

BP is also attempting to use boom, those floating yellow or orange plastic devices, to stop the oil on the ocean surface from reaching the shore. BP has boasted they have deployed more than 2 million feet of boom in the gulf. Wow, that's a big number. Should we be impressed? The problem is that much of the boom is being deployed improperly and will do nothing to stop the oil from coming ashore. We've seen much evidence already of boom washed up on the shore and oil-soaked marshes and beaches. In short, there are three types of boom deployment: containment, deflection, and exclusion. Boom can be deployed perpendicular to the flow of oil as BP is doing, but requires calm weather, minimal current, and recovery sites. BP's booming is missing the point - collection. The fact of the matter is the shoreline needing protection is too long, and the resources needed for proper booming and collection are too small. Stretching brightly-colored boom straight across miles of rough seas does little more than give the appearance of protection. This is probably all BP is after, anyway.

Now, BP's CEO Tony Hayward is featured on a $50 million (we're a nice company, please don't put me in jail) TV ad saying they'll make it right. Well, Mr. Hayward, we just don't trust you. We want you off the job. We kicked the British out of here 227 years ago, and we should do it again. Oh, and we should send them the bill. They're good for it. BP's average profit is $93 million PER DAY.

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor


  1. Clearly COREXIT doesn't correct it.


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