BP and the Coast Guard used Corexit in unprecedented numbers in the Gulf of Mexico. The dispersant is designed to bond with the oil and sink the mix of chemical and crude deep, far away from shore and while this is indeed happening, depleting the oxygen and poisoning the lowest rung of the food chain on the sea floor, unfortunately it is also beginning to now wash up on the beaches of Alabama, its presence indicated in recent water samples collected by the Press-Register and analyzed by Ed Overton, an LSU chemist.
“We didn’t see oil in the analysis we do, but I passed some of these water samples to a colleague who does fluorescence analysis,” Overton said. “We saw some preliminary indications that there was a dispersant signal in the sample.” Fluorescence analysis provides ultra-fine detail and can measure chemicals to the parts per billion level or better. Overton said it was too soon to say definitively that the material in the samples was the Corexit dispersant, but the signal was similar to a Corexit sample. “I’m very interested in it. We need to find out what it is,” Overton said. “If dispersants are getting onshore, that’s news. We need to know that.” Harriet Perry, a scientist at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs stated, “They looked specifically for the Corexit. It looks like they found it,” Perry said of work by research colleagues at Tulane University, “These (oil) droplets in the crabs, they are pinhead-sized. For a droplet to be that small, it has to be dispersed oil,” Perry said. “It’s supposed to biodegrade rapidly. It’s supposed to disappear in days, not weeks, but that may not be happening.”
Last month, Dr. Susan Shaw, a marine toxicologist described symptoms of shrimpers who had been exposed to the combination of oil and Corexit, which included muscle spasms, heart palpitations, long-lasting headaches and bleeding from the rectum. Of primary concern is those symptoms were only as a result of short term exposure. Unknown are the effects over the long-term, and if Corexit is being found in crab larvae this means it could be making its way inside the food supply. Add this to its washing up on the beaches and the Gulf Coast could be dealing with this chemical for a long time to come.
British Petroleum spokesman, Steve Brocknick, when asked about the findings by these two scientists went on record stating, “Ed Overton? Harriet Perry? Who the hell had those two on their lists?…heads will roll!”
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Tests suggest oil dispersant washing up on Alabama beaches
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