Last week state Sen. A.G. Crowe fired off this heated letter to President Obama. The letter takes the president to task for allowing the use of the controversial dispersant Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico and expresses his deep and detailed unease with the possible toxic ramifications to those present and future residents living along the Gulf. Crowe even goes so far as to voice the suspicion, which is shared by many along the Gulf, that Corexit is still being used to disperse remaining oil leftover from the spill even though BP and the Obama administration claim to have discontinued its use.
Mr. President, my concern is that this toxic and damaging chemical is still being used and it will compound the long-term damage to our state, our citizens, our eco-system, our economy, our seafood industry, our wildlife and our culture.
Later in the letter, Crowe goes many steps further – 11 to be exact – and fires off a series of pointed questions over the allowed use of Corexit in the Gulf and its possible aftereffects.
Please have your administration provide answers to the following questions.
1. Have acutely toxic chemical compounds been formed by the mixing of Gulf crude with toxic dispersants (Corexit 9500 and 9527A) applied individually or in a mixed ratio? If such chemicals have been mixed, please provide the ratios and provide the names of the other chemicals with which Corexit was mixed.
2. Other acutely toxic compounds have been found in the air, water, and sediments in the Gulf. Have they evaporated off with the aid of dispersants? Have your scientist reported that these compounds have come ashore, contaminating our coastal communities?
3. Is the oil spilled truly cleaned up, or has it been transformed through the evaporation and loss of lighter-chain hydrocarbons, leaving the heavier, longer-chain hydrocarbons in the water and sediments to continue delivering toxins to those exposed to them through time, which includes all the aquatic life within the Gulf waters?
4. What levels of toxins can humans safely tolerate if these toxins are taken in either by ingestion or by direct exposure from the air or water?
5. Are the Gulf waters safe? If so, define “safe.” Please define the test methods used to determine water quality and safety to assist independent scientists to verify these results.
6. Is Gulf seafood safe? If so, define “safe.” Please define the test methods used to determine safety to assist independent scientists to verify these results. The independent smell test by the USDA has on occasion proven to be inaccurate. What test equipment is being employed? USDA Director Steve Wilson will not declare verbally.
7. Were our Gulf waters safe prior to the recent 4,200 square mile ban by NOAA? If so, when? Please describe the testing methods and proof that it was safe. Where are the test data and a description of test methods that proved it was safe? What tests or methods were used to prove it was unsafe?
8. Have our Gulf onshore breezes been safe, specifically from May/June and from 2010 to present? Environmental monitoring by the federal government has surely occurred since the accident and test results as well as a description of test methods and findings should be available by now. Much is still missing in this area of data on numerous agency web sites. Please provide them. Independent scientists have reported the presence of PAH’s, 2-butoxy-ethanol and other toxic compounds in the air and in onshore rainfall. Please provide any data available on this issue, including their effects on humans, and confirm if the public should be concerned about bio-accumulation in commercial seafood or not. If indeed there is any risk of bio-accumulation, then know that it is possible to detoxify the soil and ground water, if necessary. Both NOAA and the EPA data together with some of BP’s data are contradictory within their own summations. We just need transparency regarding these issues.
9. What is the impact of prolonged exposure to these chemicals on humans in terms of toxicity and illness? What are the symptoms associated with various exposures? I ask this because in the Exxon-Valdez accident, it has been reported that all who participated in the clean up activity died within 20+ years of the accident. Understanding the chemical characteristics of the toxins used and mixed with the oil is important.
10. With respect to water samples taken by EPA and NOAA, please provide the test data and a description of test methods regarding poly-propanol, 2-butoxy ethanol, ethylene glycol, total hydrocarbons and PAH’s in the water column, not just the surface waters. Reports of chemicals in the water melting the plastics or rubber products such as diving suits and gasket seals have been reported and documented. Also, fishermen have discovered the bottoms of their crab traps dissolved or were heavily coated with rubbery tar-type oil.
11. Does the toxic effects of the dispersant Corexit 9500/9527A mixed with light sweet crude confirm that the toxicity level is increased for living organisms?