Nelson says BP might not pay full economic damage of its oil leak listen05/05/10 Seán Kinane
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BP has reportedly begun to continually spray oil dispersant at the site of the Deepwater Horizon well blowout at an unprecedented depth. That the impact of these chemicals is not well known, but they could be hazardous.
Since the April 20 blast sent millions of gallons of oil gushing into the gulf, BP has unloaded at least 372,000 gallons of dispersant into the water. Researchers say the effects of such a massive application of dispersants is unknown. University of South Florida Biologist John Ogden says the stuff works like soap.
He says the idea is to reduce the concentration of crude.
Ogden added that the use of dispersants is intended not only to water down the oil that’s at sea, but also to keep some of it from washing ashore.
Despite copious application of the chemicals, oil reached the Chandeleur Islands Wednesday. And there’s another problem, Ogden said.
He added there’s no telling what the pieces of dispersed oil might do to ocean creatures that may mistake the small floating oil globules for food. Walter Jaap is an independent consultant for environmental consulting firm Entrix, a company that is advising BP in the wake of the slick. He said the path of the slick and the chemicals used to treat it may become a problem down the road.
Jaap said chemical oil dispersants in high concentrations are detrimental to coral reef ecosystems.
He added that the impacts of the dispersed crude itself should be of concern.
As of yet, scientists are not in agreement on whether the Gulf Loop Current will pick up the slick and everything that comes with it. Some, like University of Miami’s Hans Graber, say it’s already there. But the Florida Department of Environmental Protection says the current is too far south of the slick. Jaap said that however bad dispersants may be for reef systems, they’d likely be diluted once they reached the Keys.
Jaap added that reefs aren’t the only ecosystems at risk.
BP is also using methanol, a toxic alcohol, to prevent ice crystals from forming in a dome with which they plan to once again attempt to cap the leaky well.
Morre WMNF coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: