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Gulf Cleanup: "Shrimp With No Eyes. Crabs With No Claws. No Surprise and Predictable"

A Call For A Twenty-First-Century Solution In Oil Spill Response 

Pristine Gulf waters
Cover photo from the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization's recent report, A Call for a Twenty-First-Century Solution in Oil Spill Response. "What if that dark area were crude oil and your job was to clean it up without damaging the environment; could you do it?"
                                                                                               (Photo: Rainer von Brandis)

I appreciate that you are keeping this issue alive in the news: A Deadly Paradox: Scientists Discover the Agent Used in Gulf Spill Cleanup Is Destroying Marine Life.  The devastation that is continuing to occur in the Gulf as a result of the on-going application of Corexit is jaw-dropping and heartbreaking. The article mentioned that Corexit 9527 is more toxic than Corexit 9500.

Toward the beginning of the spill, when the public began to get an idea of how toxic Corexit 9527 was and began demanding that something else be used, the EPA sent a letter to BP giving them 24 hours to find another chemical dispersant on their approved list of products on the National Contingency Plan (NCP) for Oil and Hazardous Chemical Spills.

Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization logo
Learn more: Change Oil Spill Response Now?

The EPA did not say a safer product on the NCP list. They demanded another chemical dispersant.

The EPA did this knowing that because of the monopoly it has created for Exxon's Corexit over the past 25 years, (they have never allowed any other product to be used on U.S. navigable waters when an actual spill happens, despite the fact that there are numerous other products on the NCP list that are less toxic, less expensive and demonstrably more effective), that BP would have to come back saying that the only product that was stockpiled in enough quantities for deployment on a spill of this size was Corexit.

The "solution" was to acquiesce by switching to Corexit 9500.

The public was appeased, but duped, because they didn't know that per the science and chemical information regarding 9500, 9500 is only slightly less toxic than 9527 by itself, but once it is applied to oil, the combination becomes more toxic than the combination of 9527 and oil.  The idea that scientists are just now finding how destructive Corexit is, is totally inaccurate.

Every chemical manufacturer has to fill out a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on their product and submit it to the EPA and make it generally available.  Both Corexits, 9527 and 9500, specifically say on the MSDS, "Don't contaminate surface waters [with this product]."  Yet, as of July 2010, close to 2 million gallons were sprayed on and injected into the Gulf waters.  Because the spraying has continued, this figure is far higher now. The EPA applies a graduated numbering system to chemicals regarding their toxicity level.  The higher the number, the less toxic it is.

One product on the NCP list that effectively and thoroughly cleans up oil is so non-toxic you can take a swig of it and it won't hurt you has a toxicity number of 1400.

Corexit's toxicity number ranges between 2 and 15, depending on the test.  You almost can't get more toxic than that.  The MSDS sheet says that the product is low risk.  However, if you read the fine print, you will find that it is only low risk as long as you rigorously follow the safety guidelines of wearing a full respirator and full hazardous materials suit. In other words, don't breathe any in and don't get any on you.  If you do, all bets are off. The MSDS list is easily accessible. 

The fact that Corexit keeps being touted as "safe as dish detergent" is patently false.  This statement is made because Corexit contains 2BTE (2 Butoxy Ethanol) in it.  2BTE can be found in Dawn dish detergent.  However, what they don't say is that 2BTE is a tiny fraction of Dawn dish detergent, while it makes up at least 70% of the volume Corexit.

2BTE is mutagenic (causes mutations), teratagenic (causes birth defects and problems with procreation), and carcinogenic (cancer causing).

All of the devastation that has occurred to the marine life in the Gulf: the shrimp with no eyes, crabs with no eyes and claws, fish with open lesions, fish with tumors, huge increase in dolphin miscarriages, and massive depopulation of the marine life is no surprise and was utterly predictable.

 The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization has written a position paper on this subject,  A Call for a Twenty-First-Century Solution in Oil Spill Response. It covers all of this in depth.

Barbara WisemanIn 2003, Barbara was the Executive Director of a management consulting firm in Los Angeles, CA, when Dr. Lawrence Anthony asked her to help him create the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. Until Dr. Anthony’s passing in 2012, they worked together to build and expand LAEO’s reach around the world. Mrs. Wiseman holds the functions of Executive Director for LAEO US, LAEO US Board member, as well as LAEO's International President. Beginning with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Barbara began researching to find effective methods that could be immediately implemented to swiftly and thoroughly clean up the toxic oil and chemical dispersants that so negatively impacted the wildlife, marine life, and public’s health.  Once solutions were found, she has then lead LAEO’s campaign to break down arbitrary barriers put in place by government regulators, and now expanded LAEO’s focus to all oil spills around the world.

Comments (to add a comment go here)

On July 1, 2013, Jim Rhyme of Islamorda, FL wrote:

Thanks for putting into words what many of us know and have known since the Gulf spill occurred.  BP has knowingly and with the aid of our government, created a bigger problem by using a toxic dispersant to mitigate an oil spill.  If we could find a way to put this public information into a mass text, a Dancing with the Stars commercial, the side of a beer bottle, or a rap video, perhaps the public would pay attention.

As someone who depends on the Gulf of Mexico for his livelihood and the livelihood of his employees, I am frightened at the long term consequences of this “treatment”


On July 1, 2013, John V Larkin of Big Pine Key, FL wrote:

Please know: There certainly is a solution to the oil spill scenario and the question that this article poses...

The answer to that problem has been there and utilized by myself and my company in the Florida Keys for over 26 years now and before that for over 7 years in New England. We have used live microbes to stop oil and gasoline spills for over 33 years with great environmental success.

Microbes are the basic building blocks of an Eco-system.

We love our Bugs and will continue their use as the rest of the environmental community plays catch up to the field people who have seen first hand how well microbes work.

Thank you - Thank you for this article because public education is a priority to cleaning up the Nations waterways. We want to do more harbors and polluted waterways - oil spills are easy work compared to the bigger problems lying in the silts of harbors and boat basins...

(Mr. Larkin's complete remarks can be found here:  We Love Our Bugs: Microbes eat oil


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