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"negligence" or "gross negligence"?
May 2, 2013 3:16 PM   Subscribe

'Well, could we get some respirators or something, because that s--t is bad.' He said, 'No, that wouldn't look good to the media.' Last month, BP CEO Dudley told the annual BP shareholders meeting in London that Corexit "is effectively ... dishwashing soap." But the Louisiana Environmental Action Network's scientific adviser, Wilma Subra, a chemist whose work on environmental pollution had won her a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, told state and federal authorities at the time that she was especially concerned about the mixture of crude and Corexit. Flashforward to 2013, the civil trial against BP is underway, and an investigative reporter talks about the cover-up in a long article at Newsweek. (Previously, previouslier, more previouslier)
posted by spamandkimchi (71 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had to come post this before reading further in the article...I just...I don't even...

(Nineteen months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution found that crude oil becomes 52 times more toxic when combined with Corexit.)

FIFTY TWO TIMES MORE TOXIC

And this stuff was used to CLEAN UP the oil spill?
posted by sio42 at 3:32 PM on May 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah but its probably cheap as chips.
posted by marienbad at 3:34 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


And supposedly 1.8 M gallons of the stuff was used for the clean up of the gulf.
posted by boo_radley at 3:35 PM on May 2, 2013


And this stuff was used to CLEAN UP the oil spill?

No, this stuff was used to conceal the oil spill.
posted by ogooglebar at 3:35 PM on May 2, 2013 [50 favorites]


Corexit™ is designed to clean the area of living witnesses.
posted by Behemoth at 3:38 PM on May 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Fuck BP to hell, from their early roots as the Arab-Persian oil company that lobbied the US to overthrow Iran's government because they had the gall to want to negotiate on oil profits rather than getting a pittance, to the present day using Orwellian-named shortsighted binary death toxins to expedite the cover up of the extent of their destruction. The private sector needs some serious babysitting and these rapacious fucklords whine about too much regulation.
posted by lordaych at 3:38 PM on May 2, 2013 [35 favorites]


Yeah but its probably cheap as chips.
It's supplied by a subsidiary or associated corporation (NYTimes,) at the right price (high or low, a price that serves the interests of the two corporations ability to create the write-off they want).
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 3:39 PM on May 2, 2013


Don't worry. BP has hired the Umbrella Corporation to clean up the Corexit™.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:43 PM on May 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


"Don't worry, we've created a super strain of benevolent bacteria that sequester the toxic death cocktail, and there should be no consequences since the bacteria are completely benign" *suddenly begins disintegrating into vapor*
posted by lordaych at 3:45 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't worry, the vapor has a pleasant smell and is nourishing to plant life!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:47 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Somehow, the remaining pockets of humanity managed to engineer a harmless phage to kill the Acidophilus deus ex strain and we forage on the remains of civilization..." *eyes hemorrhage*
posted by lordaych at 3:48 PM on May 2, 2013


FIFTY TWO TIMES MORE TOXIC

But, think of the growing opportunities in the three-tailed shrimp market!
posted by Thorzdad at 3:52 PM on May 2, 2013


ok, so I just this minute, finished reading Dan Simmon's Hyperion (on the strength of so many strong MF recommendations) and coming here now and reading this post, the first article...we are doing it, right now. we are profligately destroying our planet and I hope we never gain the technology to move to other worlds, because its hard to doubt we'd just do the same there, over and over again...ugh :(
posted by supermedusa at 3:53 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


And this stuff was used to CLEAN UP the oil spill?

Just like cleaning up a blood stain by repainting your floor red.
posted by absalom at 3:54 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


>Just like cleaning up a blood stain by repainting your floor red.

With lead based paint.
posted by Catblack at 3:57 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


we are profligately destroying our planet

We are NOT destroying our planet. We are merely profligately rendering it uninhabitable to a large number of species. Including our own.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:58 PM on May 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


It would not be surprising in the least if species theoretically capable of space flight always extiguish themselves before they can fully develop it.
posted by maxwelton at 4:07 PM on May 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


yes IRFH, thats an important distinction that my ick and ire overlooked. but while we shit ourselves out of a nest we are also destroying those 'large number of species' who are not driving around in SUVs! its just frustrating and a bit nauseating...
posted by supermedusa at 4:07 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Absolutely.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:09 PM on May 2, 2013


You people are so hard on BP. We owe them an apology.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:16 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


But, think of the growing opportunities in the three-tailed shrimp market!

I'm worried about the glowing opportunities in the three-eyed fish market.
posted by ogooglebar at 4:17 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, BP! I'm sorry we got our planet all over your chemicals!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:20 PM on May 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Destruxit
posted by Sys Rq at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gesundheit
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:23 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the first few days after the oil spill when they first said they were spraying dispersant, alarm bells went off in my head. It just seemed like they were trying to do a quick cover up instead of expending the effort necessary to remove the oil from the ocean.
posted by zsazsa at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Every news cycle out-nadirs the last.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:33 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


BP deserves the death penalty for this. Seize their assets, auction them off, and use the proceeds to fund clean-up and alternative energy research.
posted by Mick at 4:41 PM on May 2, 2013 [32 favorites]


we need to get some humans out on other planets, and get them working on fucking them up. we can declare the whole damn earth a national park and live in orbital rings and visit on weekends.

work trip to venus. ohhh, we spilled death juice all over the space trash, we'll have to push it into the sun now. seriously. it's like we're trying to tig-weld the table we're serving dinner on. we need a space-garage.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 4:42 PM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


It would not be surprising in the least if species theoretically capable of space flight always extiguish themselves before they can fully develop it.

When you scale space travel it really becomes a biological, ecological and anthropological problem.

We haven't developed the ability to maintain a stable ecosystem, including multiple generations of happy goal-oriented human beings, long enough to complete an interstellar space mission.

We're not even good at maintaining our current spaceship, and we've got a huge head start.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:45 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


The thing about humans on other planets is that unless we get really lucky and come up with a faster-than-light drive, we're going to have to fuck up the new planet right out of the gate, just to make it habitable in the first place. A sufficient number of ants will eat all of your picnic, too.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:49 PM on May 2, 2013


I wonder if a sufficient number of ants would eat all of our Corexit. Coming soon to Syfy.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:52 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mark Hertsgaard was on The Rachel Maddow Show last week: Toxic BP oil clean-up chemical sickening those exposed
posted by homunculus at 5:03 PM on May 2, 2013


Your Regularly Scheduled Pipeline Debacle
posted by homunculus at 5:05 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I... I-I freeze, I can't move, and I'm suddenly consumed with the overwhelming sensation that I'm covered with some sort of film. It's in my hair, my face... it's like a glaze... like a... a coating, and... at first I thought, oh my god, I know what this is, this is some sort of amniotic - embryonic - fluid. I'm drenched in afterbirth, I've-I've breached the chrysalis, I've been reborn. But then the traffic, the stampede, the cars, the trucks, the horns, the screaming and I'm thinking no-no-no-no, reset, this is not rebirth, this is some kind of giddy illusion of renewal that happens in the final moment before death. And then I realize no-no-no, this is completely wrong because I look back at the building and I had the most stunning moment of clarity. I... I... I... I realized Michael, that I had emerged not from the doors of Kenner, Bach, and Ledeen, not through the portals of our vast and powerful law firm, but from the asshole of an organism whose sole function is to excrete the... the-the-the poison, the ammo, the defoliant necessary for other, larger, more powerful organisms to destroy the miracle of humanity. And that I had been coated in this patina of shit for the best part of my life. The stench of it and the stain of it would in all likelihood take the rest of my life to undo.
posted by fullerine at 5:22 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was tutoring somebody who had to write, for a business writing class wtf that is, an analysis of BPs website, particularly the pages devoted to explaining how responsible and overall awesome BP is for cleaning up the Gulf after the disaster. After an hour I wanted to hit myself in the head with a hammer.
posted by angrycat at 5:23 PM on May 2, 2013


So I don't understand legal things at all. Is it ever possible to file criminal charges against individuals within the company? Are the only possible penalties financial ones?

Employing people who are only working for you because you've destroyed their previous source of income, and then exposing them to dangerous chemicals and, as an added slap in the face, withholding MSDS's from them so they don't know how to protect themselves. If those allegations are true, I just ..... don't even know what to say.
posted by gerstle at 5:30 PM on May 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


An In Depth Look At Gulf Shrimp with Riki Ott—Cinema Libre Studio [Caution: Extremely Disgusting]
Marine toxicologist Riki Ott points out the malformities in the shrimp recently coming out of the Gulf of Mexico (on November 11, 2012) as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the chemical dispersant used in clean up process.

Shrimp have been found with blackened guts and lungs, tumors, mis-shapen heads, and some shrimp found without even eye sockets. Says Ott, "I have never seen this happen after an oil spill, these mutated wildlife...I believe this was because of the dispersant. The extraordinary spraying of just mass quantities of dispersant at the surface, at the sub-surface, day after day for months."
posted by ob1quixote at 5:36 PM on May 2, 2013


This is one of those stories that makes me confident that everything is much worse than we know.
posted by scratch at 5:40 PM on May 2, 2013 [19 favorites]


Can we take away the car keys away from Montgomery Burns times Hitler corporations before they give us all cancer? Or is that a growth industry along with diabetes and obesity that will stimulate the economy (health care, lawsuits, crappy private sector software subsidized by government) and effectively raise the Medicare age ceiling?
posted by lordaych at 5:41 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't even form the prethoughts necessary to form the words to express my bitter disappointment and disgust over how much we just keep screwing things up and acting as if things are just dandy anyway.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:42 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


FIFTY TWO TIMES MORE TOXIC

I'm as horrified as anyone else at this notion, but just a brief reminder that this doesn't tell us at all about the baseline rate. If I'm 0.01% likely to get cancer X, then after exposure to Corexit, I'm now 0.52% likely to get cancer X. Alternatively, if the baseline rate is 1%, then hell yes we should be concerned. Houstonian's comment is helpful for context.

Why can't I for the life of me find out whether chemist Wilma Subra is a PhD? Are articles avoiding calling her "Dr. Subra" because woman, or because she doesn't have a doctorate? (Not that a PhD is the be-all-end-all of expertise. Just curious, and befuddled by google.)
posted by nicodine at 5:49 PM on May 2, 2013


Maybe we're in a bubble in a multiverse that happens to favor humans against all Odds, because we are still here which means we are plucky and can deal with anything as it comes up. But I'd rather quit while we're ahead, whew that was close gize KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF NAU THX.
posted by lordaych at 5:50 PM on May 2, 2013


Nicodine, she has a masters.
posted by ryanrs at 5:56 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, the vapor has a pleasant smell and is nourishing to plant life!

So, electrolytes then?
posted by Brak at 6:06 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I worked in the Gulf as part of the wildlife response effort during the summer of 2010. Just y 2 cents - that dispersant was NASTY.

We'd be out on boats and see huge trails of it floating in the water - not oil mind you, just the chemicals, and more often than not, there would be a number of dead fish floating in the sheen. We recovered birds who had zero signs of oiling, but were obviously distressed and/or dead, which we began to chalk up to the chemicals.

Not long into the effort, we were directed to not mention dispersant over radio, and to not indicate dispersant contamination on any wildlife that we recovered. It was pretty obvious that the shit was causing problems and nobody wanted to admit it.

I consider myself very lucky that I have not experienced any ill health effects from my work there.
posted by tryniti at 6:25 PM on May 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


nicodine: What? Even your totally-made-up, bullshit, apologia numbers - going from one in a thousand chance to one in two hundred chance - is a *staggering* increase.

I mean, if 100,000 people were involved in the cleanup, that's the difference between 1,000 natural cases of cancer and *51,000* additional cases of cancer.
posted by absalom at 6:28 PM on May 2, 2013


What kind of unholy bastard do you have to be to do something like this just to keep the stock price up?

I mean, I know they're not the first, but this kind of stuff always just stops me cold. I simply can't imagine deliberately making the decision to dump millions of gallons of poision all over my mistake so that no one would know about it. These people are sociopaths, no other fucking word for it.
posted by Ickster at 6:30 PM on May 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Houstonian's comment is helpful for context.

And to put that comment in context, read the rest of what Houstonian has had to say about the oil industry over the years. (Okay, I'll save you the trouble: It's unshakably positive.)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:31 PM on May 2, 2013


The fine should be some simple equation, like say, all profits for 10 years plus 5 times the CEO's salary.
posted by sammyo at 6:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a marketing guy may I just say that whoever named this shit "Corexit" - regardless of whether it's poison or as sweet and helpful as unicorn tears - is a corporate-minded asswipe who deserves to be punched in the nose.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:51 PM on May 2, 2013


I mean, if 100,000 people were involved in the cleanup, that's the difference between 1,000 natural cases of cancer and *51,000* additional cases of cancer.

No, it's the difference between 10 and 520. Still horrible, but not 52 percent of a given population.
posted by LionIndex at 6:52 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"It's not the crime, it's the cover-up." Ever since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, that's been the mantra. Cover-ups don't work, goes the argument. They only dig a deeper hole, because the truth eventually comes out.

But does it?


Not when both parties of yer two-party system are in cozy with business and have absolutely no interest in persuing corporate malfeasance, it doesn't.
posted by Ickster at 6:59 PM on May 2, 2013


Doh! Stupid decimals. I even saw Office Space... I should have seen that one coming.
posted by absalom at 7:04 PM on May 2, 2013


As a marketing guy may I just say that whoever named this shit "Corexit" - regardless of whether it's poison or as sweet and helpful as unicorn tears - is a corporate-minded asswipe who deserves to be punched in the nose.

Oh, they deserve much, much worse than that.
posted by Token Meme at 7:05 PM on May 2, 2013


Don't worry, the vapor has a pleasant smell and is nourishing to plant life!

So its Hydrogen Sulfide then, right?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:14 PM on May 2, 2013


I consider myself very lucky that I have not experienced any ill health effects from my work there.

Ill health effects that you know of.

IF Coreexit/the oil causes a problem 20-30 years in the future, how would you prove that Coreexit/the oil is responsible?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:27 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


we were directed to not mention dispersant over radio

Fuck you, I won't do whatcha tell me?
posted by XhaustedProphet at 7:41 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]



FIFTY TWO TIMES MORE TOXIC

I'm as horrified as anyone else at this notion, but just a brief reminder that this doesn't tell us at all about the baseline rate


Because you cut off the last part of the quote. 52 times more toxic than the crude it was used to conceal.

Crude oil is your baseline.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 7:51 PM on May 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


I've not commented on this post because I have no way to fully express my outrage. I've made the occasional stunt comment from time to time that USES NEW AND EXPERIMENTAL FORMS OF ANGER EXPRESSION TECHNOLOGY, but this is absolutely despicable. I have no words, nor fancy html tags, for this. I can't even joke about it. It's horrifying.

I notice we haven't gotten anyone taking the contrarian position this time!
posted by JHarris at 8:20 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it ever possible to file criminal charges against individuals within the company?

No. According to the Supreme Court, while corporations are people and have all the rights the of people, the people who work for corporations are not people responsible for anything. Deal with it.
posted by JackFlash at 8:26 PM on May 2, 2013


I'm normally against things like extraordinary rendition, water-boarding, and other body/mind stress tactics which we refuse any longer to call torture. However, I think in this case I could be persuaded that the board officers and top administration at BP should be taught that it is impolite to destroy an environment solely for the sake of profit and expedience, utilizing the aforesaid methods.
posted by evilDoug at 8:38 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's important to remember that it is primarily our law enforcement mechanisms that have failed us - it is our elected representatives who have failed to enforce the law. While we might hope that corporations would not be quite so psychopathic, history tells us not to be so naïve - but this is why laws exist, so we can deter people from committing crimes for profit and punish them when they do anyway.

But when it came to this tremendous disaster, our leaders completely screwed the pooch. This occurred comparatively early in Mr. Obama's administration, and he simply did everything wrong. The parts that stuck in my craw at the time were that the Administration just out and lied about the oil flow - and that they consistently and repeatedly refused third-party scientists a look-in at the scene.

This was Mr. Obama's chance to show strength. He could have pushed BP up against the wall and forced them to pay every penny of the costs, and punitive damages on top of that. If they had gone out of business, too fucking bad. I'm quite sure not one job would be lost - because that oil still needs to come out of the ground and someone's going to do it.

Mr. Obama was still quite fresh in office - BP had relentlessly fucked up every inch of the way - they were dead to rights - people were killed - crap was everywhere.

And what happened? Nothing much happened. BP paid for some portion of the costs of the clean-up - except it didn't get "cleaned up" as this article shows. BP paid a few pennies on the dollar to people whose livelihoods were permanently destroyed. No one was criminally charged. As far as I know, there wasn't even a criminal investigation, even though a dozen people died.

I'm sure there will be someone jumping in to say, "Well, it's hard to prove a crime was committed."

This is the same country where Aaron Swartz was hounded to his death by being threatened with decades in prison for a crime where the "victim" had explicitly asked the government to drop the case. This is a country where a 16-year-old girl can be charged with a felony for mixing Dran-O and aluminium and making a bottle pop. This is a country where they always seem to have money to persecute individuals to the full extent of the law for minuscule infractions, yet are strangely powerless to act in these cases where greed and pursuit of profit resulted in massive catastrophes that affected, literally, millions (or in the case of the global financial crisis, billions).

And in the past, the government has used their power on the powerful. You should look up sometime what forces the government brought to bear on Michael Milken. I'm of the opinion that he was a criminal and deserved to be locked up, but I have some sympathy with his complaint that with the RICO provisions that they threw in, he had no choice but to plead, because he was otherwise looking at multiple separate charges, any one of which would have left him in jail for the rest of his life.

All of those laws are valid to this day - and overall there is greater portion of the GDP spent on law enforcement than there was at that time (the Reagan era). What has changed is the complete unwillingness of our present-day leaders to enforce the law on the so-called 1%.

By the time of the election, I thought had few illusions about Mr. Obama's politics - the volte-face on FISA was pretty clear - but I believed at least that he was a rational man, and as such, understood the great importance to society of enforcing the laws on the rich and powerful.

The Deep Water Horizon disaster was when I finally realized that even those fairly limited hopes were a pipe dream. Reading the story was like reading about a Bush bungle-and-coverup except with a different cast.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:42 PM on May 2, 2013 [23 favorites]


By the time of the election, I thought had few illusions about Mr. Obama's politics - the volte-face on FISA was pretty clear

July 2008. That was when I realized that Obama was a team player, and therefore an actual contender. Which made me rethink the whole Jack Ryan meltdown thing ( you're running Alan Keyes? Really? )

Not for any particular reason other than sheer entertainment value. I thought it some sort of high-political-performance-art... We start with Jeri 'leaking' her divorce paperwork or something, a crazy chain of coincidences, and we end up with HNICommander-and-Chief. Maybe it was a meeting with the telecom and high-tech bagmen that they realized that they could take this all the way.

Imagine the movie that Richard Pryor. Gene Wilder, and Mel Brooks could have made with that treatment?
posted by mikelieman at 5:57 AM on May 3, 2013


It's important to remember that it is primarily our law enforcement mechanisms that have failed us - it is our elected representatives who have failed to enforce the law.

One must remember that the tools used to exist for people to address matters of law that didn't need "elected officials".

Citizens used to be able to take a matter to their local Grand Juries and used to be able to bring a lawsuit without being 'directly effected'. But placing others in the way of Grand Juries along with the idea of standing have become roadblocks to the people.

But worry not Citizen! The nations founding principles are still enforced with these changes! One used to have to be male and holder of physical assets to be able to have a say. There have clawbacks in the form of women and non-asset holders having voting rights, but non-enforcement and granting boons to large asset holders are re-asserting the founding principles of the Nation.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:25 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


“Nalco had previously declined to identify the third hazardous substance in the [Corexit] 9500 formula, but EPA's website reveals it to be dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, a detergent and common ingredient in laxatives.” — Ingredients of Controversial Dispersants Used on Gulf Spill Are Secrets No More.

Just great. We've been spraying the gulf with stool softener.
posted by scruss at 10:33 AM on May 3, 2013


I'm as horrified as anyone else at this notion, but just a brief reminder that this doesn't tell us at all about the baseline rate. If I'm 0.01% likely to get cancer X, then after exposure to Corexit, I'm now 0.52% likely to get cancer X. Alternatively, if the baseline rate is 1%, then hell yes we should be concerned. Houstonian's comment is helpful for context.

It certainly is helpful, although on a first glance the information provided doesn't look so bad, in fact I was almost thinking "meh, maybe it is OK". But then I R'd TFA and after seeing that hey, it sure looks like lots of people involved are actually sick and I don't think they're faking it, I figured I'd take a closer look.

[Looking:]
In the Gulf of Mexico, they used [Nalco's Corexit models] 9500A and then switched to 9527. The EPA required the switch;

So here's the first slight of hand I noticed. The article states "administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who wrote BP a letter on May 19, asking the company to deploy a less toxic dispersant in the cleanup. Jackson could only ask BP to do this' she could not legally require it." Perhaps not a huge difference, but a difference none-the-less. More importantly, however, we get some concrete information about the dispersants that were used. We also find that MSDS information has been provided, which we can examine. However, assuming we were on the shore working with it, we would have to do this work ourselves, as "BP told NALCO to stop sending them". In any case, let's see what it says.

Houstonian:
The dispersants contain the following hazardous ingredients:
- 2-butoxyethanol: In your home, you find this in Windex and Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner.
- Propylene glycol: Found in Avalon Organics hand lotion, Right Guard Sport antiperspirant, and Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe cake mix.
- Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate: Found in Ex-Lax stool softener, De Flea pet shampoo, and Physicians Formula face cream.


So on first glance, well, this doesn't look so bad, right? But on a further consideration, how often do you spray yourself with Simple Green, coat your body in antiperspirant, and douse yourself with anti-flea pet shampoo? As we've heard, "the dose makes the poison", so we can guess that although these chemicals are perhaps safe in small amounts, maybe they aren't so great in larger amounts, or when applied to different areas of the body. But let's see what that MSDS says for ingredients:

Hazardous Substance(s) // CAS NO // % (w/w)
Distillates, petroleum, hydrotreated light // 64742-47-8 // 10.0 - 30.0
Propylene Glycol // 57-55-6 // 1.0 - 5.0
Organic sulfonic acid salt // Proprietary // 10.0 - 30.0


This list looks slightly different to me, but perhaps the prior list was for Corexit 9527 or 9500A is different than 9500. For our purposes, let's examine each of the substances in both lists and see what we know. I feel I should also note that the numbers provided, at their maximum amounts weight/weight add up to (30+30+5)=65. So these ingredients comprise up to 65% of the weight of the corexit per weight...which leaves another 35% at minimum that must be comprised of, IDK, dark matter?
Distallates, Petroleum, Hydrotreated Light (CAS#64742-47-8):
EC Classification: Harmful. Irritant. Dangerous for the environment.
EC Risk Phrases: R38 Irritating to skin. R65 Harmful: may cause lung damage if swallowed. R51/53 Toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment.
EC Safety Phrases: S2 Keep out of the reach of children. S23 Do not breathe gas/fumes/vapour/spray. S24 Avoid contact with skin. S51 Use only in well-ventilated areas. S61 Avoid release to the environment. Refer to special instructions/safety data sheets. S62 If swallowed, do not induce vomiting: seek medical advice immediately and show this container or label [...] If material enters lungs, signs and symptoms may include coughing, choking, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, chest congestion, shortness of breath, and/or fever. The onset of respiratory symptoms may be delayed for several hours after exposure. Skin irritation signs and symptoms may include a burning sensation, redness, swelling, and/or blisters. Breathing of high vapour concentrations may cause central nervous system (CNS) depression resulting in dizziness, light-headedness, headache, nausea and loss of coordination. Continued inhalation may result in unconsciousness and death.
Hey, but it's only 10-30% by weight and being sprayed from planes, so probably no biggie, right?

Propylene glycol
: May cause damage to the following organs: central nervous system (CNS).Wikipedia says "The acute oral toxicity of propylene glycol is very low, and large quantities are required to cause perceptible health damage in humans. [...] Exposure to mists may cause eye irritation, as well as upper respiratory tract irritation. Inhalation of the propylene glycol vapors appears to present no significant hazard in ordinary applications. However, limited human experience indicates that inhalation of propylene glycol mists could be irritating to some individuals. [...] Propylene glycol is known to exert high levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) during degradation in surface waters. This process can adversely affect aquatic life by consuming oxygen aquatic organisms need to survive.
This stuff doesn't seem too bad. There's more in the MSDS on the potential CNS effects. I still don't know why you'd use this instead of some of the other safer glycols, though, and it has the potential for adverse effects on marine life.
Organic sulfonic acid salt: [Well, we can't say much since it's proprietary, but in general] A sulfonic acid can be thought of as sulfuric acid with one hydroxyl group replaced by an organic substituent. [...] Similarly, methanesulfonic acid, pKa = -1.9, is also about one million times stronger acid than acetic acid. [...] Since the mid-20th century, the usage of sulfonic acids has surpassed soap in advanced societies.
???
2-butoxyethanol: Hazardous in case of skin contact (permeator), of eye contact irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant). Severe over-exposure can result in death. [...] Personal Protection: Splash goggles. Lab coat. Vapor respirator. [Read the link for futher information, but in the interest of brevity,] wikipedia adds Laboratory tests by the United States National Toxicology Program have shown that sustained inhalation of high concentrations (100 - 500 ppm) of 2-butoxyethanol can cause adrenal tumors in animals. American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) reports that 2-butoxyethanol is carcinogenic in animals.
YAH THAT'S PROBABLY FINE.
Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate: Material is not expected to be harmful by ingestion. No specific first aid measures are required. In case of skin contact, remove contaminated clothing without delay. Flush skin thoroughly with water. Do not reuse clothing without laundering. In case of eye contact, immediately irrigate with plenty of water for 15 minutes. Obtain medical attention if irritation persists or if otherwise necessary. LC50: BLUEGILL, 96 HOUR: 37 mg/L TROUT 96 HOUR: 28 mg/L
DAPHNIA, 48 HOUR: 36 mg/L
Again, doesn't look too terrible for humans, although those concentration levels are pretty low for killing 50% of the fish living in them. For comparison, the LC50 for Propylene Glycol is >5000 mg/l 24 hours [Goldfish]. 37 milligrams is around the size of a Tic-Tac, whereas 5kg is about the size of....11 pounds of sugar. I'm not even sure how you'd dissolve that in 1l of water and I kind of wonder what it would look like for a goldfish to swim in PG, which is pretty thick, but I digress...

One thing I thought was "funny" was that although corexit "is effectively ... dishwashing soap," almost all of the MSDS sheets recommend that after skin contact you "Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek immediate medical attention." HMMMMM. WHY NOT JUST USE MOAR COREXIT!>?!?

Anyway, let's revisit the comments from Houstonian: "In this case, there was so much concern that the EPA released the list of ingredients, and Nalco responded by posting a full list on their website. It is not a secret to anyone anymore."

And they sure do!! I mean, mostly, kind of, eh? At least 35% of the ingredients in the 9500 are unlisted and some of the "listed" ones are proprietary. I would consider those to "still be a secret", personally. But anyway, let's take a look at what the EPA says. "Ingredients are not considered to cause chemical sensitization; the dispersants contain proven, biodegradable and low toxicity surfactants." The same ones we read about above, you know "low toxicity". When we read on, though, we see that side effects include "Defatting and drying of the skin and possibly dermatitis, as a result of prolonged exposure. Chemical pneumonitis, if aspirated into the lungs. However ingestion is considered an unlikely route of exposure. Repeated exposure to 2-butoxyethanol may cause central nervous system depression, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects, injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver, and a metallic taste. Respiratory irritation as a result of repeated and prolonged inhalation exposure. Eye irritation as a result of repeated and prolonged inhalation exposure."

TOTALLY UNLIKELY, considering "Roughly 58 percent of the 1.84 million gallons of Corexit used in the cleanup was sprayed onto the gulf from C-130 airplanes. The spray sometimes ended up hitting cleanup workers in the face." WHICH THEY WILL TOTALLY PROBABLY NOT ACCIDENTALLY INHALE, RIGHT, GUYS, I MEAN WOULD YOU INHALE THAT TOXIC SHIT!?!? LOLOLOL.

Houstonian: "And none of this is to say that the incident isn't terrible and the consequences massive. I am saying that it is irresponsible scaremongering and lazy reporting. At a minimum, CNN could have gone to the Nalco website and viewed the pdf documents linked from their web page that addresses these issues"

While I'm not going to defend anyone's reporting these days (which I often find lacking), I'm also not going to go to the manufacturer's website to find out what they think of the safety of a product which they clearly state "NALCO was never involved in decisions relating to the use, volume, and application of its dispersant."

I am in agreement with Houstonian in that I would also not say "that the incident isn't terrible and the consequences massive". In fact, and I'm going to go out on a limb here, but to me, personally, I think that the incidentactually is terrible, the consequences are massive, some really poor decisions were made, and some companies are way more concerned about covering their asses than about taking responsibility for the repercussions of their actions. Anyway, apologies for the long and perhaps poorly formatted post, but I wanted to take a look myself and share what I thought was important. I would really like it if it turned out all these concerns are overblown, but it just doesn't look like they are to me.
posted by nTeleKy at 1:22 PM on May 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


I was thinking about it the other day. All that effort to clean up wetlands and beaches and stuff. Isn't all of that stuff going to be underwater in a few decades anyway?
posted by delmoi at 7:28 PM on May 3, 2013


One thing I thought was "funny" was that although corexit "is effectively ... dishwashing soap," almost all of the MSDS sheets recommend that after skin contact you "Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek immediate medical attention." HMMMMM. WHY NOT JUST USE MOAR COREXIT!>?!?
Heh.
posted by delmoi at 7:31 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


When we got married on Fort Morgan the balls of oil were, for the most part, gone (hopefully the sand passed the taste test). Even though the spill and the disaster and the fucked situation everyone was/is in afterward and during the whole debacle played heavy on my heart... it didn't even cross my mind once during the two weeks we stayed there with family to vacation, prep for, celebrate, cleanup after, and recuperate from said wedding.

Things like this bring back the reality that we're fucking up. We're doing it wrong. I hope that the moments I spend not worrying aren't in vain. I hope the cynic in me is wrong. I hope we can turn things around. I hope..

.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:36 AM on May 7, 2013


Eric Zuesse: Obama Administration Lies, Then Covers Up, to Minimize BP Liabilities for Deepwater Horizon Disaster
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:09 AM on May 12, 2013


In other news: BP and Shell raided in European commission price-rigging inquiry. European commission carries out 'unannounced inspections' to investigate claims prices were rigged for more than a decade
posted by homunculus at 1:16 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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