Posted by: stiltsville | May 30, 2010

oil spill dispersants

From wikipedia: “Dispersants can be used to dissipate oil slicks. They may rapidly remove large amounts of certain oil types from the sea surface by transferring it into the sea water.”

So, what this means is that Corexit 9500 and the other dispersants are not actually  “cleaning-up” the oil. Dispersants just chop the oil up into little tiny particles that are more available for microbes to eat. Unfortunately, oil-eating microbes use oxygen and release CO2. This may be why scientists are finding large “dead zones” with very low oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico. Microbes at work.

Dispersants keep the oil from washing ashore. Dispersants keep the oil from floating on the surface. Dispersants prevent massive PR problems and make your oil spill look smaller. Every barrel of oil that sinks to the bottom is one less barrell BP has to pay to remove from the shore. Like kicking a can down the sidewalk, dispersants move the problems out of public view and instead put them down at the bottom of the Gulf. Instead of killing cormorants and pelicans, this stuff will be killing deep sea dwellers.

Crude oil kills by smothering and it can kill by toxicity. Dispersants raise the toxicity of spilled oil by vastly increasing the surface area. They reduce the smothering effect and reduce the land affected. By making the oil more available to microbes, dispersants may also reduce the duration of toxicity. It’s a trade-off.

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