Oil spill pessimists have seized on dispersants as evidence of conscious wrongdoing by BP — a toxic chemical prohibited by the EPA supposedly used to hide, not clean, the oil. Over the weekend, congressmen began to turn on the Coast Guard for allowing dispersant use.
But it turns out dispersant fears were also overblown.
The EPA has revised earlier claims, now saying oil-plus-dispersant is no more toxic than oil alone.
The tests prove that the oil itself, not the dispersants, is “enemy No. 1,” Paul Anastas, EPA assistant administrator for research and development, told reporters on a conference call.
Testing was done on sensitive marine species in their juvenile life stage, when they are at their most sensitive, Anastas said. During tests, researchers increased the concentration of the dispersant, mixed with Louisiana sweet crude oil, to concentrations even higher than that species are expected to encounter in the Gulf, Anastas said.