"The PR department at BP prefers dead fish to dead birds and turtles"

BP’s still dumping toxic Corexit — defying orders from the EPA to stop — two weeks after this great rant by a blogger at Greenpeace:

Now that BP’s jury-rigged contraption to contain its massive Gulf of Mexico oil spew has failed, the company’s only resort is to continue pumping massive amounts of dispersant into the water near the wellhead, in an attempt to — what exactly?

The dispersant goes by the trade name “Corexit.” It’s supposed to be a pun on the words “corrects it.” Marine conservationist and oil spill expert Rick Steiner says “Corexit” is called “Hidez-It” by insiders because its purpose is not to correct but deceive….

One active ingredient in Corexit is 2-butoxyethanol, which in laboratory tests has been shown to reduce fertility, increase embryo deaths and increase birth defects in animals. Animals are the primary marine inhabitants of the Gulf of Mexico.

Another ingredient is propylene glycol, which you may know as anti-freeze or airplane de-icer. It has high biological oxygen demand, or BOD. This means that as it degrades in the water, it removes oxygen via biological processes. The more propylene glycol in the water, the less oxygen for plankton and fish.

In all, Corexit acts like a surfactant, the same thing that’s in your dish or laundry soap. The oil is more attracted to the surfactant than to the water it’s floating in. The oil forms globules and sinks to the bottom. This is a boon for BP, because it creates less of a photogenic oil slick on the surface of the gulf to be filmed by television news crews.

As we’ve seen in Prince William Sound in the two decades since the Exxon Valdez spill, oil that sinks to the bottom tends to be re-suspended in the water column by storms and with the frequency of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, we’ll see BP’s oil belched back up — with damage to the environment — for generations to come.

Why would anyone in their right mind pour chemicals that poison and suffocate fish into an oil spill that already threatens their lives? I think BP executives — in their long and sorry string of explosions, spills and mishaps — have demonstrated clearly that they are not in their right minds.

I’ll hazard a guess, though. The fewer dispersants you use, the more dead, oily birds and turtles you’ll have washing up on shore. The more dispersants you use, the more dead fish you’ll have — some of which will wash up on shore, many of which will sink to the bottom of the gulf and never be seen again. I imagine the PR department at BP prefers dead fish to dead birds and turtles.

Posted by James on Tuesday, May 25, 2010