Whistle blower Hugh Kaufman is a senior policy analyst at the EPAâ€™s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Though the EPA will not officially tell us exactly what’s going on with dispersant chemicals being used in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Kaufman seems to have a legitimate concern for the health and safety of those working to clean up the mess, as well as residents of the Gulf states. He was recently interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and blasted not only BP, but his employer as well:
Well, Corexit is one of a number of dispersants, that are toxic, that are used to atomize the oil and force it down the water column so that itâ€™s invisible to the eye. In this case, these dispersants were used in massive quantities, almost two million gallons so far, to hide the magnitude of the spill and save BP money. And the governmentâ€”both EPA, NOAA, etc.â€”have been sock puppets for BP in this cover-up. Now, by hiding the amount of spill, BP is saving hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in fines, and so, from day one, there was tremendous economic incentive to use these dispersants to hide the magnitude of the gusher thatâ€™s been going on for almost three months.
Consequently, we have people, wildlifeâ€”we have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And thatâ€™s what dispersants are supposed to do. EPA now is taking the position that they really donâ€™t know how dangerous it is, even though if you read the label, it tells you how dangerous it is. And, for example, in the Exxon Valdez case, people who worked with dispersants, most of them are dead now. The average death age is around fifty. Itâ€™s very dangerous, and itâ€™s an economicâ€”itâ€™s an economic protector of BP, not an environmental protector of the public.
It’s hard to believe that the EPA would allow BP to dump Corexit into the Gulf waters knowing that it would be unsafe for human populations. The EPA has not officially declared the Corexit to be as deadly as most scientists know it is. From the EPA’s standpoint, the Corexit has been deemed safe – more or less. (If it was dangerous, wouldn’t they have stopped its use?).
Remember, however, that the EPA also declared the air at Ground Zero after September 11th as safe. Nearly 10 years later, we know this was completely false and hundreds, if not thousands, of people who worked to clean up the World Trade Center sites have experienced health problems, including a various cancers.
It seems to us that BP’s use of Corexit benefits them in various ways.
First, the Corexit will disperse the oil (not get rid of it) so that the surface of the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t look as polluted as it actually is. According to studies, Corexit doesn’t work so well under water, thus, we likely still have globs and tarballs of oil underwater killing off sea life and making their way towards the shores. Essentially, this is a PR move on the part of BP – a clean Gulf means a clean image for BP.
Second, and you may very well disagree, BP’s use of Corexit will likely cause significant health damages to those working in its direct vicinity, as well as to those who may ingest contaminated water or food containing this dangerous chemical. How does this benefit BP? Like the Exxon Valdez spill, the court battles for reparations and damages will likely takes years, if not decades to play out. By then, many of those affectedÂ may already be dead – some from natural causes, some from man-made Corexit poisoning. Isn’t it easier to just kill off those who will later sue you now, than to have to deal with long and drawn out law suits they may end up costing you billions of dollars?It may sound ridiculous, but remember that BP is a corporation beholden not to our safety or the cleanliness of the Gulf, but to its shareholders. Money is the bottom line.
Whatever the case may be, we know eleven people have already died as a result of BP’s negligence. It is our view that hundreds, perhaps thousands, more will die as a result of their need to preserve their image and revenue.