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Dispersants In Gulf

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Dispersants In Gulf

Environment

Dispersants In Gulf

Dispersants In Gulf

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Host Liane Hansen talks with author Jeff Goodell about the use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf oil clean-up effort. Goodell wrote an article about the issue for this month's Rolling Stone magazine, titled, "The Poisoning." He is the author of How to Cool the Planet and Big Coal.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Jeff Goodell joins us from the studios of WGY in Albany, New York. Welcome.

JEFF GOODELL: Thanks for having me.

HANSEN: Before we talk about the effects of the dispersants, briefly, can you tell us why BP chose to use the chemicals as a primary clean up method, given other options that are available?

GOODELL: Well, partly, they use the chemicals because there weren't a lot of other options available. They did not have enough oil skimmers anywhere near the Gulf to clean this up by skimming it. Burning it was not really an option for a large-scale clean up. And so they were really desperate to do something, and chemical dispersants were fairly easy to use. They can drop them in with airplanes. And it also fit into their larger agenda of trying to downplay the severity of the spill.

HANSEN: How do dispersants downplay that?

GOODELL: Well, one of the virtues of dispersants is that they make the oil on the surface disappear. What they do is sort of break up the oil slicks into smaller particles of oil. But it also has big sort of political benefits in that you see less oil coming up onto the shore where it can be seen by television cameras and others.

HANSEN: So, the dispersed oil sinks down from the surface. How do the chemicals affect the sea life under the water?

GOODELL: And it's going to be much harder to quantify this damage.

HANSEN: Now, the Food and Drug Administration has said that the chemical dispersants used to break up oil in the Gulf have a low potential for accumulating in seafood and do not pose a public health concern. What's your take on that? Is the food chain at risk?

GOODELL: But it's going to play out in the coming months and years, not in, you know, the next week or two.

HANSEN: What suggestions would you give to the Environmental Protection Agency to better monitor and regulate the use of dispersants in the Gulf?

GOODELL: And then second of all, to set some more clear guidelines about the usage of them and the quantity that is allowed to be dumped into a situation like this. 'Cause that's really the big issue here is the amount, the 1.8 million gallons that was used more or less indiscriminately.

HANSEN: Jeff Goodell is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine. He wrote an article for this past week's issue about BP's use of chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. He joined us from the studios of WGY in Albany, New York. Thanks a lot.

GOODELL: Thank you for having me.

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