Chemicals used to clean oil spill may have ill effects

05/03/10 Lisa Marzilli
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One of the techniques being used by BP to tackle the massive oil spill is the use of chemical oil dispersants such as solvents, and other compounds. They’re used to reduce the effect of oil spills by changing the chemical and physical properties of the oil. However, they are controversial.

On a phone call with reporters today, US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the use of such dispersants is unprecedented at the depths they’re being used.

Associate Professor Peter Harrison, the director of Marine Studies at Southern Cross University, says chemicals used to disperse an oil leak from a coal carrier when it ran aground inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last month may have a devastating effect on coral spawning later this year.

NOAA Environmental Scientist Charlie Henry gave a vague response when asked today by a reporter about the detrimental effects the chemical dispersants themselves could have on the environment.

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