Unified Command: BP “cannot remember” when dispersant last used

We checked in with the Unified Command press shop today, to verify that BP still is applying no dispersants in the Gulf.

The staffer told us that no dispersants have been applied sub-sea since July 15. This jives with their response to us last week. However, the staffer (same one we talked to before – from USDA), could not say when surface/aerial dispersants application had stopped. This does not exactly jive with what they told us last week.

Last night’s official numbers were the same as they’ve been in every daily update since July 15:

“Approximately 1.84 million gallons of total dispersant have been applied—1.07 million on the surface and 771,000 sub-sea.”

However, last week they told us those numbers didn’t quite reflect that there had been surface/aerial dispersant used since July 15. When pressed to give a date when surface/aerial dispersant use stopped, the staffer stated today:

“It’s been a few days. It certainly has been more than about 48 hours …. I’m asking the BP guys if they’ve monitored when it was used since that point [last week], and they cannot remember. And so we very well could not have used dispersants since the last time you called.”

He could not provide a specific date of the last dispersant application, then he referred us to the daily updates and stated “We’re only as good as those numbers”,  which last week he said weren’t reflecting when aerial/surface dispersant use stopped.

Major media — please follow up on this — it’s a straightforward query and there’s no reason for no answer. Demand answers. Of course someone in the federal government must know when BP applies dispersant and when they don’t — and if no entity in the federal government knows, that’s a huge problem.

We need total transparency with the use of this chemical brew in the Gulf.

gushing oil, chemical dispersants and sealife

Video released by the Deepwater Horizon Response team from the oil leak site shows the sheer volume of crude spraying into the deep sea 24/7 (visible especially starting at 1:58)

And we got word from the EPA yesterday that it has approved further use of chemical dispersants, both on the surface and underwater, even though EPA notes

“The effects of underwater dispersant use on the environment are still widely unknown, which is why we are testing to determine its effectiveness first and foremost. If it is determined that the use of this dispersant underwater is effective and that BP may continue its use, the Federal government will require regular analysis of its impact on the environment, water and air quality, and human health. We reserve the right to discontinue the use of this dispersant method if any negative impacts on the environment outweigh the benefits.”

Testing on a grand scale and then deciding over time if the negative impacts might outweigh the benefits? Of course, the relatively slow pace of scientific research means the determination of negative impacts will lag far behind any immediate ‘benefits’ of the chemicals breaking up oil slicks.

Countless known and little-known sea creatures in the waters of the Mississippi Canyon and beyond are being inundated with the gushing oil. Adding a brew of mystery chemicals to the mix is irresponsible at best – our government can do much better by us and by our environment than sanction wild and desperate use of untested chemicals.

Among the many creatures in the Gulf’s deep waters? Bioluminescent sea creatures like jellyfish – scientists have been working for years to unlock the secrets of this phenomenon.