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Deepwater Horizon – BP’s Cure Worse Than the Spill

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Proales Daphnicola - A type of Rotifer - BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill VictimThe Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, resulting from an explosion on board the drilling platform April 20, 2010, released nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil [about 157 million gallons] into the Gulf of Mexico before it was capped three months later.

In order to prevent clumping, at least theoretically, dispersant Corexit 9500 was spread over the entire area of the surface slick on the order of some two million gallons. Yes, I realize it was an emergency situation, and yes, the Corexit was ‘approved’ for use to remedy that problem, but how did anyone miss the toxicity levels?

Finally, two years later, we’re getting results on the dispersant used after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Georgia Institute of Technology [GIT] and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes [UAA] of Mexico, have released their reports on the toxicity of oil compared with oil & dispersant mixtures, and they’ve concluded that the oil/dispersant is over 50 times more toxic than the oil alone. Yes, oil clumps didn’t make it to shore nearly as much as they would have without Corexit 9500, and it has me wondering if BP was just hoping the problem would disappear on its own.

Instead of killing shore birds, the toxic mixture is killing microscopic animal life, the basis for the entire ocean food chain. GIT and UAA tested the toxicity on microscopic rotifers, which killed them off more often than oil alone. The oil/dispersant mixture also inhibited rotifer egg hatching.

Surely the decline in rotifer population will lead to starvation among the lower orders of the food chain, including shrimp and crab populations, when depend on rotifer stocks for their entire lives. Fish populations also suffer, because baby fish depend on rotifer stocks until they’re big enough to hunt larger prey.

Why wasn’t Corexit 9500 tested similar to GIT and UAA? After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, how was Corexit 9500 even approved for emergency use without testing? What about those who depend on the sea for their living? Will the dying rotifer population lead to decreased yield of larger stocks, such as crabs, shrimp, and fish? Will BP get away with this affront to the ocean ecology as well?

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