Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I have previously noted that dispersants are being used to cover up the amount of oil spilled, and that they are making the effects of the oil spill worse. I have also pointed out that dispersant Corexit is extremely toxic to people. See this and this.
The senior policy analyst at the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response - and former the EPA ombudsman's chief investigator - agrees, telling Democracy Now today:
Corexit is one of a number of dispersants, that are toxic, that are used to atomize the oil and force it down the water column so that it’s invisible to the eye. In this case, these dispersants were used in massive quantities, almost two million gallons so far, to hide the magnitude of the spill and save BP money. And the government—both EPA, NOAA, etc.—have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. Now, by hiding the amount of spill, BP is saving hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in fines, and so, from day one, there was tremendous economic incentive to use these dispersants to hide the magnitude of the gusher that’s been going on for almost three months.I have also previously pointed out the similarities between the government's handling of 9/11 and the oil gusher. Kaufman gives some insight about the parallels:
We have people, wildlife—we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now is taking the position that they really don’t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. It’s very dangerous, and it’s an economic—it’s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.
Who saves money by using these toxic dispersants? Well, it’s BP. But then the next question—I’ve only seen one article that describes it—who owns BP? And I think when you look and see who owns BP, you find that it’s the majority ownership, a billion shares, is a company called BlackRock that was created, owned and run by a gentleman named Larry Fink. And Vanity Fair just did recently an article about Mr. Fink and his connections with Mr. Geithner, Mr. Summers and others in the administration. [My comment: other reports list JP Morgan as BP's top shareholder. In any event, BlackRock is reputed to be a large shareholder of BP.] So I think what’s needed, we now know that there’s a cover-up. Dispersants are being used. Congress, at least three Congress folks—Congressman Markey, Congressman Nadler and Senator Mikulski—are on the case. And I think the media now has to follow the money, just as they did in Watergate, and tell the American people who’s getting money for poisoning the millions of people in the Gulf.
The sole purpose in the Gulf for dispersants is to keep a cover-up going for BP to try to hide the volume of oil that has been released and save them hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of fines. That’s the purpose of using the dispersants, not to protect the public health or environment. Quite the opposite.
[Question] You’ve made comparisons between Corexit, the use of Corexit and hiding BP’s liability, and what happened at Ground Zero after the attacks of September 11th, Hugh Kaufman.
[Kaufman] Yeah, I was one of the people who—well, I did. I did the ombudsman investigation on Ground Zero, where EPA made false statements about the safety of the air, which has since, of course, been proven to be false. Consequently, you have the heroes, the workers there, a large percentage of them are sick right now, not even ten years later, and most of them will die early because of respiratory problems, cancer, etc., because of EPA’s false statements.And you’ve got the same thing going on in the Gulf, EPA administrators saying the same thing, that the air is safe and the water is safe. And the administrator misled Senator Mikulski on that issue in the hearings you talked about. And basically, the problem is dispersants mixed with oil and air pollution. EPA, like in 9/11—I did that investigation nine years ago—was not doing adequate and proper testing. Same thing with OSHA with the workers, they’re using mostly BP’s contractor. And BP’s contractor for doing air testing is the company that’s used by companies to prove they don’t have a problem.
Here's a video of the interview:
And see this.
Note regarding the Exxon Valdez deaths. A test application of Corexit was used in the initial response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. However, the full-scale use of Corexit was not approved (pages 56 & 69). The workers who were part of the test application, and those who subsequently worked in and around the test area, could have been exposed to Corexit.
Attorney Kerry Kennedy claimed on CNN that almost all of the cleanup crew working on the Exxon Valdez oil spill are now dead, and that the average life expectancy for an Exxon Valdez oil spill worker is around 51 years, 26.9 fewer years than the average American.
However, I wrote to toxicologist Dr. Ricki Ott - who has blown the whistle on the BP cleanup (see this and this), and who was present during the Valdez cleanup - to ask whether Kennedy's statement was correct. I received the following reply from Dr. Ott's personal assistant:
Ms. Kennedy was mistaken.For more information, check www.rikiott.com/spillinfo.php . You will see that out of a workforce of 11,000, Exxon documented 6,722 cases of Upper Respiratory Illness. In 2003, a Yale grad student conducted a pilot study that showed roughly 1/3 of the sample, taken from the list of workers who reported URIs during the EVOS cleanup, reported lingering symptoms.There has been no epidemiology study, so no statistics exist as to the mortality rate of EVOS workers, to our knowledge.
I have no idea whether Kaufman and Kennedy know something that Ott doesn't.