Nearly three years after BP doused its monstrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill with Corexit oil dispersants, the media has finally started to report on just how dangerous the chemicals, which are meant to break oil down into tiny particles for micro-organisms to consume and digest, are to human health and the environment.
But with the BP oil spill a distant memory in most peoples’ minds and the lack of serious media coverage given to what has been called the “trial of the century” – BP’s federal trial that could put it on the hook to pay tens of billions of dollars in penalties – most people could be forgiven for not giving a second thought to the nearly 2 million gallons of Corexit oil dispersant BP dumped into the Gulf of Mexico or even what it was in the first place.
That’s because, according to Newsweek, “BP mounted a cover-up that concealed the full extent of its crimes from public view. This cover-up prevented the media and therefore the public from knowing—and above all, seeing—just how much oil was gushing into the gulf.”
As BP engineers failed repeatedly to contain the blown-out Macondo well in a canyon a mile below the ocean’s surface, the company took the desperate measure of hiding the spill by converting it into massive underwater plumes of tiny oil droplets. BP achieved this effect by attacking the oil spill from above and below with enormous, unprecedented quantities of Corexit dispersant, forging ahead with its untested, arguably reckless application of the toxic chemical.
And now we know. People are sick; fish are sick, and scientists are finding signs that the Gulf’s ecology has been fundamentally harmed. Much, if not most, of the oil treated with Corexit remains in the Gulf virtually unchanged since 2010, and the chemical compounds present in this Corexit-crude mixture are 52 times more toxic than the unrefined oil alone.
Plumes of Corexit-treated oil have triggered a massive die-off of plankton and other micro-organisms that form the base of the Gulf’s food chain. Dolphins and turtles continue to die in alarmingly high numbers, and fish are being pulled out of the water with lesions and livers clogged with oil, likely from swimming through clouds of Corexit-treated oil particles.
Humans exposed to the Corexit-oil mixture aren’t faring well, either. Newsweek reports that cleanup workers and others who came into contact with Corexit have developed the same bizarre and debilitating symptoms as veterans who came back from Iraq in the 1990s with Persian Gulf Syndrome. Now dubbed “BP Syndrome,” the symptoms include blood in urine, kidney damage, liver damage, memory loss, nerve damage, temporary paralysis, and several other serious disorders.
Corexit, Newsweek says, is the cover-up that BP conducted in plain sight as an “uncomprehending” media witnessed it being dumped in the Gulf and reported it as a way to break the oil down into small particles so that micro-organisms could eat it. What really happened is that it created giant toxic plumes that killed or maimed the creatures engulfed in them and then settled on the sea floor as a toxic sludge that will still be there 100 years from now, according to scientists monitoring the problem.