When Covering Up a Crime Takes Precedence Over Human Health: BP's Toxic Gulf Coast Legacy
Date Written: 14/05/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX22807
On April 20, 2010, BPs Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Over the next 87 days, it gushed at least 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, creating the worst human-made environmental disaster in US history and afflicting the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
A Deadly Mix
As if BP's disaster werent enough, according to the Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental NGO, 330,000 gallons of oil are spilled in Louisiana alone every year. There is a fire every three days on an offshore oil platform, three workers die annually and every year in the Gulf, 2,100 oil and chemical spills are reported to the Coast Guard.
Even this April, a massive spill of heavy fuel oil fouled the Mississippi River during the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans, which was ironically sponsored by Chevron, reminding people there how deeply the oil industry is embedded in their lives.
Other studies have also shown that dispersants are highly toxic to wildlife, including fish, crabs and even deep-sea coral. Other research has shown recently how dispersants hamper the growth of oil-eating bacteria, which of course, weakens natures ability to clean up after a spill. BP used two kinds of toxic chemical dispersants to sink the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527, manufactured by Nalco Environmental Solutions. Approximately 770,000 gallons were injected at the wellhead while the oil gushed, while another million gallons were sprayed on the oil slick on the surface. Tens of thousands of cleanup workers, Coast Guard members, fishers and coastal residents were within range of the airborne chemicals, and many of them were sprayed directly with Corexit, which when mixed with crude, is 52 times more toxic than crude alone.