The Government Accountability Office is absolutely correct when it says more research is needed on possible environmental problems that could result from using dispersants to break up oil spills. This is what BP did after the disastrous 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The GAO found that very little testing had been done on the dispersants before they were used in the Gulf. The GAO was asked to investigate the use of dispersants following BP’s catastrophic oil well blowout that killed 11 workers and caused the largest offshore spill in our nation’s history.
BP was allowed to spray dispersants on the Gulf to break up the oil in an effort to combat the spill. While the use of dispersants has been controversial, most folks don’t know what was used, or how much. The GAO report said 1.84 million gallons of dispersants were used and 771,000 gallons were sprayed deep underwater at the wellhead. According to the report, federal agencies have spent more than $15.5 million on research involving dispersants since 2000, but that few of those studies looked at the effects of using dispersants underwater or in the Arctic Ocean. The GAO Report said:
Little or no prior testing had been done on the effectiveness and potential adverse environmental consequences of a subsea dispersant use, let alone at those volumes.
The report recommended conducting more research into the use of dispersants below the sea and in the Arctic environment. Hopefully that will happen. We certainly can’t depend on the giant oil companies to do the right thing. Neither can we afford to have the weak regulation of the industry that we have experienced over the past ten years.
Source: Claims Journal
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