As the Herald Tribune notes, even BP-funded scientists are finding that dispersant made things worse:
succeeded in sinking the oil from its blown well out of sight — and
keeping much of it away from beaches and marshes last year — by dousing
the crude with nearly 2 million gallons of toxic chemicals. But the
impact on the ecosystem as a whole may have been more damaging than the
combination of oil and Corexit, the chemical BP used to dissolve the
slick, is more toxic to tiny plants and animals than the oil in most
cases, according to preliminary research by several Florida scientists.
And the chemicals may not have broken down the oil as well as
reported some of their early findings last week at a Florida Institute
of Oceanography conference at the University of Central Florida. The
researchers were funded a year ago through a $10 million BP grant.
There is anecdotal evidence that dispersant was still being applied many months after BP and the government said spraying had stopped. See this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.
In related news:
- The Sarasota Herald Tribune notes:
mixture of oil and dead organic particles may still be falling to the
deep bottom of the northern Gulf of Mexico, potentially harming the
base of a food web that supports all kinds of sea life, from giant
whales and blue-fin tuna to grouper and snapper.
In water thousands of feet deep, scientists have discovered a “dirty blizzard” that deposited more than three inches oil mixed with decayed plant and animal material near the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout last year.
quarter to half of the oil that spewed from the blown wellhead –
between 186 million to 227 million gallons – is still unaccounted for
and thought to be lingering in the deep sea, said Benjamin Flower, a
geological oceanographer with the University of South Florida.
of oil were found in the top layer of the sediments, as well as
single-celled plants and animals, some of which were deformed.
sediments were also found near the Desoto Canyon, a prime fishing
area. Near the same area, on the West Florida Slope, other toxic
effects on the bottom of the food web have been observed.
to the small plants and animals that make up the bottom of the food
web can ripple through the ecosystem because it removes important food
sources for larger fish.
Among some of the other observations made by scientists so far:
In lab research on conch, shrimp and oysters, the combination of
crude and Corexit - the toxic chemical BP used to dissolve the oil -
is more toxic than oil alone.
Oil remains buried in the sand of Panhandle beaches, disrupting
microscopic life in the sand and also posing a threat to shorebirds and
the offspring of sea turtles.
Pregnant dolphins in the northern Gulf may have been unable to find
sufficient food following the oil spill, a potential factor in the
unusual die-off of infant and neonatal dolphins earlier this year.
Cancer-causing chemicals from the crude, such as benzene and toluene,
may still be lingering in the ecosystem because they do not degrade
- And even the
reports of large numbers of sick fish in Gulf are so widespread that
even NOAA is talking about it. As the Pensacola News Journal reports:
the first time [NOAA is] warning anglers that some fish are sick and
may pose health problems if handled or eaten raw.The agency is telling
anglers to toss fish that have lesions, fin rot or discolored skin
back into the Gulf and to be careful about handling them. This warning
comes just one week before the June 1 opening of recreational red
NOAA ... acknowledged that fishermen and
scientists have recently reported and documented lesions on fish they
are catching in federal waters off Alabama.
reports of sick fish correlate with areas most impacted by the BP oil
spill, said Jim Cowan Jr., the Louisiana State University Department of
Oceanography and Coastal Sciences scientist who is at the center of
the sick fish studies off the Alabama coast.
worried because I've talked to both commercial and recreational
fishermen who have been in the business 30 to 40 years and no one has
seen anything like this,' he said.
Donnie Waters has been fishing the Gulf since 1974. He was shocked to
learn that the sick fish he's been catching and sending to scientists
for study are infected with the dangerous bacteria.'I'm seeing
things I've never seen before,' he said. 'I'm deeply concerned about
the long-term impact of the fishery of the eastern Gulf.'
Of course, BP isn't accepting blame for any of the damage. As Plaintiff's attorney Stuart Smith notes:
BP-government spin machine belched back into gear last week – and the
intent, as it has been since Day One, is to dupe the world into
believing that a 200-million-gallon oil spill has minimal impact on the
delicate ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. That’s what the spin masters
would have us believe. So when record numbers of dead and “stranded”
sea turtles started washing ashore across the Gulf Coast, the
BP-government PR team went looking for someone or something to deflect
attention from the 200 million gallons of crude and 2 million gallons
of toxic dispersant that was pumped into the water over nearly 3
So now we are being subjected to the same sort of attempt
at damage control that we saw when all the dead dolphins came ashore
not long ago. Is anybody else starting to see a pattern here? The spill
has broken the back of the Gulf ecosystem, and now we’re dealing with
In the case of the turtles as it was with the
dolphins, the BP-government objective is to divert attention away from
last year’s massive oil spill. So who or what to blame? What killed or
stranded the 600 sea turtles – six times the annual average –
that washed ashore in 2010 during the height of the BP spill? How do
the damage-control wizards explain why, already this year, 563 sea
turtles have been stranded in just four Gulf states?
Well, here’s what the spin maestros – backed by NOAA scientists – came up with: The shrimpers did it.
what they’d have us believe. The shrimpers killed hundreds and
hundreds of sea turtles – most of them endangered Kemp’s ripleys – with
their big nets (and their devastated lives). It wasn’t the 200 million gallons of oil, it was the shrimpers.
the far-fetched nature of the accusation, the BP-government spinners
came out firing – implying that the sharp spike in turtle deaths is due
entirely to the fact that shrimpers aren’t using their
regulation-mandated “turtle excluder devices.” TEDs, as they’re called,
are designed to keep sea turtles like Kemp’s ripleys out of shrimpers’
gear and nets.
“This is a serious problem,” said Barbara
Schroeder, NOAA’s national sea turtle coordinator. But Grand Isle Mayor
David Camardelle, who’s also a shrimper, disagrees: “The only turtles
that are being destroyed are the turtles in the oil spill.”
Did I mention that the
official shrimp season just opened last week? And I should mention it
opened to reports of small catches, and the shrimp that are being
caught are much smaller than usual.
Click here to see photos.