Nalco, the makers of Corexit disperant, are on the line for what could be hundreds of thousands of personal injury claims with the company’s request for immunity being quashed yesterday in a ruling by US District Court Judge Carl Barbier.
The chemical company, whose product British Petroleum execs once called safe as dish soap had requested immunity from any lawsuit because they claimed to be just following orders from President Obama in giving the chemical to BP for use.
Barbier, however, called bullshit on that.
It turns out that whole disagreement between the EPA and British Petroleum on what dispersant to use might have consequences after all.
For those who’ve forgotten:
Judge Barbier writes:
“‘After the disaster, BP began implementing a disaster response plan to prevent oil from escaping the blown out well, to manually contain the oil, and to disperse oil in the water using Nalco’s chemical dispersants….”‘Upon information and belief, immediately after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, on or about April 23, 2010, BP began subsea and aerial application of chemical dispersants manufactured by Defendant Nalco to the resulting oil slicks and sheens on the surface of the Gulf.
“‘On or about May 19, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator directed BP within 24 hours of issuance to identify and to change to chemical dispersants that are less toxic than Nalco’s Corexit® dispersants BP had been using…On May 20, 2010, BP objected to changing dispersants and notified the EPA that it would continue using Nalco’s Corexit. BP and clean-up defendants used and, upon information and belief, continue to use the dispersants Corexit® 9500 and 9527 (more than 1.8 million gallons to date) to disperse the crude oil…”
You see, if the EPA hadn’t objected to BP’s use of Corexit, then Nalco would have automatic immunity, granted to them by legal provisions in both the government contractor defense and the Clean Water Act. But the EPA did object, ordering the company to find a less toxic alternative and British Petroleum, with financial connections to Nalco, said too bad, were using it anyway.
And whereas Nalco might be forgiven for mistaking BP for the government last summer, their role in the spray of their chemicals which, as the plaintiffs allege “may lead to serious problems, disease, and medical conditions’ and plaintiffs are at a ‘significantly increased risk of contracting serious latent disease,” is unforgivable.
And really, if your product is so safe, what the hell do you need immunity for anyway?
Read the article:
Have a nice day.