Vice Chairperson Policy,
Advocacy and Projects
Commonwealth Youth Council
Corexit is an oil spill dispersant. Oil spill dispersants emulsify oil, breaking it in to smaller particles, which sink from the surface. Broken into smaller bits, the oil can easier biodegrade than if it were a big blob. The idea behind using a dispersant is to prevent spilled oil from affecting beaches, mangroves and estuaries where it can be more difficult to remove. In theory, using a dispersant is the lesser of two evils. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, no oil spill dispersant is completely non-toxic.
Corexit however was found to be 10-20 times more toxic than other dispersants. In fact, mixing Corexit with oil increases its toxicity 52 times. The emulsified oil droplets are bio-absorbed by plankton and mistaken for food by small fish. Starting at the bottom of the food chain, a process called bioaccumulation takes place. Corexit remains in the flesh and builds up over time. When predators eat small fish containing the toxin, toxin levels build at the top of the food chain.
Can bioaccumulation of Corexit be the cause of the continuing fish kill around La Brea? Over the last month or more, thousands of dead fish have been washing up on shore. But not only fish, dead pelicans, corbeaux and, last week, a dolphin have been found. Is Corexit another Agent Orange?
Mark Rudder, deputy head of the failed oil spill contingency plan will hear none of this. He told the T&T Guardian, in January 2014, that dishwashing soap is 27 times more toxic than Corexit. He also advised the public that Gulf of Paria fish was safe to eat.