Oil quickly surged from the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig shortly after the unit burst into flames. The oil began gushing out of the deep-sea floor at an astonishing rate, slowly making its way to the surface. British Petroleum (BP) announced the company would use Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 to help break down massive oil slicks. The chemical’s purpose was to help aid in breaking down the molecular structure of crude-oil. Corexit was able to reduce the size of massive oil slicks, allowing them to decompose at a much faster rate. BP applied Corexit to areas in large quantities, hoping the chemical could reduce the surface volume of oil.
Throughout the process of treating the oil clouds, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released statements regarding the toxicity levels of Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527. After 50 days of public and congressional scrutiny, Nalco released the ingredients contained in both dispersant formulas. British Petroleum had many other dispersant options when deciding which chemical to use. Watching with envy, other dispersant manufacturers have cried foul, and linked the exclusive use of Corexit to Nalco’s close relationship to BP, rather than to the products’ superiority. Rodney F. Chase, one of Nalco’s boards of directors, was a former president to the Exxon Mobil Corporation. “It’s a chemical that the oil industry makes to sell to itself, basically,” said Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife.
Because BP was receiving criticism and humiliation, gallons and gallons of Corexit entered into environmental ecosystems in hopes of covering up the damage. The formula would cause oil to sink until collecting on the ocean floor. Many critics believe that Corexit did nothing more than sink the petroleum below the surface. The absence of oil on the surface created a misconception in the minds of many individuals worldwide.
Student Researcher: Christopher Petrovich
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D.
Indian River State College
Terry J. Allen, Gulf Dispersants: BP and Nalco Play Toxic Roulette, Corpwatch http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15609