The Dispersant Mystery

For months we’ve heard the environmental debate over the use of dispersants in the cleanup of the Deepwaater Horizon oil spill, yet the practice still remains a primary strategy for the Unified Command.

Just how bad are they?  The Florida DEP has given the green light on their usage, but there has been no sceientific tests run on the affects of Corexit 9500/9527 when combined with oil.

What we do know is Corexit  breaks apart the oil and lower it into the water column of the Gulf where nobody knows what it is doing to the environment or where it is going.

Marine Toxoligist Riki Ott—Huffington Post

What causes great concern for biologists is the amount of dispersants deployed—of course, without any clear indication of what the chemicals will do over time.

“The amount of dispersants used on this spill is unprecedented, and that is a great cause for concern,” says UWF Biologist Dr. Richard Snyder. “We just don’t know what the total impact will be.  Dispersants are a double edged sword: By increasing the bioavailability to organisms, that is the potential for contact with organisms in the water as the hydrocarbons are dissolved in the water, they increase the immediate acute toxicity of the oil to marine organisms microscopic to megafauna, but also increase the contact with microbes that will break the oil down increasing its degradation rate.”

Snyder also is concerned with the inability to track the oil once it is broken apart.

“It puts a huge amount of oil in the water where it cannot be tracked visually, and we do not know if the microbes will break this material down before it reaches sensitive habitats (beyond just killing plankton in the water).”

The Escambia County Commission will review a resolution at its July 22 meeting that would put an end to using dispersant chemicals off our coastline.

Commissioner Grover Robinson, who brought forward the resolution at yesterday’s board meeting, says he initially saw the practice as a great tool but now believes it could be doing more harm than good.

“Now I’m not convinced it is not creating more problems (with the oil) not coming up to the surface. We really don’t know what will happen.”