The ideological debate remains.
Should there be national health and education systems that would protect the less fortunate in society?
Soap is more toxic than the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500. This was the assertion made by deputy head of the Oil Spill Contingency Plan Mark Rudder, yesterday. Rudder, speaking with the T&T Guardian at the Association of Professional Engineers of T&T (Apett) technical conference at Cara Suites, Claxton Bay, said there was no need for concern over Petrotrin’s use of the chemical dispersant in the La Brea oil spill clean-up.
He pointed to Environment Canada, a Canadian agency, which listed the chemical content of products and found that Palmolive dishwashing soap was “27 times more toxic than Corexit.” In fact, Rudder said some everyday soaps that people use contain ingredients found in Corexit.
“Some light soap that we use is more toxic than Corexit and the ingredients of Corexit are listed on the Nalco (Corexit’s manufacturer) Web site and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Web site. You could see exactly what the ingredients are and you will see next to each ingredient it is used in everyday products that are non-prescription use. “So talk about it being toxic. I do not know where that information is coming from,” Rudder said.
He said the Ministry of Energy will be issuing a release soon on Corexit, its application and its toxicity. He also said consumers need not worry about eating fish from the Gulf of Paria. Rudder, who is on the incident command team that is managing the December 17 oil spill clean-up, said the majority of the oil has been removed and there is some light cleaning still to be done on the beach in La Brea.
However, he said, there is still some work to be done in the Aripero mangrove and that has to be done on the basis of pronouncements from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) on how to approach dealing with it. Rudder declined to say if he believed the oil spill contingency plan had failed in its practical application in the La Brea area. He said a report will be compiled on the spill and an assessment will be done on “what went wrong and what did not go well and what could be improved.
“There are some things, in how things occurred, that did not go exactly as we would have liked it to go. This is the first oil spill incident that activated this particular revised oil spill plan. “There would be some areas we would need to improve on. Those things will come out based on reviews we will have internally and hence we will improve on those areas that were lacking,” Rudder said. He said the dispersant policy is clear in the oil spill contingency plan and was followed by Petrotrin. “It is a war. You have to attack the oil,” he said.
Aboud disputes Corexit claims
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea secretary Gary Aboud is disputing Rudder’s assertion that soap is more toxic than Corexit as “irresponsible.” He said if one simply typed “Corexit and cancer” into any Internet search engine a number of articles and studies would pop up showing the toxicity of the chemical dispersant. “There is no dodging the reality of the Corexit toxicity debate. “There is no toxicity? The information is there for the public to see. You can read it. Anybody with an Internet (connection) can go and find it.
“It is irresponsible for them to say that in the face of all the information that is out there in the world,” he said. He said Corexit breaks down oil, emulsifies it and sinks it to the sea floor, making it more easily absorbed by fish and marine life. “The hydrocarbons are what is the threat to human health and the Corexit facilitates the hydrocarbons being absorbed in the food chain — and when it gets into the food chain humans absorb it,” he said.
Corexit, which was used widely in the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has been linked to cancer in humans and fish mutation in the Gulf of Mexico. Aboud said studies have shown that Corexit when mixed with oil makes the oil “52 times more toxic.” “I think it is PR (public relations) to downplay the effects of Corexit. It is irresponsible. The EMA should have a central role and taken control of this (oil spill) and they have not. We have appealed to the President. The energy companies want to downplay liability for them,” he commented.
Aboud asked if Corexit was so safe, then why did the oil spill contingency plan stipulate that it should be used three miles from the shore.
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