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Louisiana Moves to Ban Use of Dispersants in Oil Spill Response Efforts

02 Jun 2011  |   Emma Brown

Tags: Toxics, Wildlife

Louisiana Senate Committee approved Senate Bill No. 97 Tuesday, the AP reports. The bill, if passed, would eliminate the use of toxic chemicals–such as those used in the BP Oil disaster—in any future oil spill response efforts off the coast of Louisiana. 

Republican State Senator A.G. Crowe introduced the bill due to concern over the effects of the chemicals used in BP’s recent oil spill. Although dispersants are less toxic than oil, Crowe and environmental groups became concerned at the large quantities of chemicals—approximately 1.8 million gallons—used to break up the oil.

While the impact of the chemicals is not yet fully understood, reports have suggested that such dispersants may remain in the water longer than intended, and some argue that they are toxic. The first study of the oil spill released in January of this year by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that both the oil and the dispersants lingered in the water rather than breaking up.

Crowe moved to introduce the bill, he said, when he saw that the federal government failed to implement less-toxic alternatives in the BP cleanup effort. "Why these technologies were not used but yet, in place of that, highly toxic chemicals were used is beyond me," explained Crowe. 

While researchers at WHOI pointed out that the chemicals are only considered “toxic” at levels 1,000 times greater than those found lingering in the coast, more research is needed to understand the effects of the chemicals on life in the deep ocean.

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