Hurricanes May Carry Toxic Chemicals from Crude Oil and Dispersant Inland → Washingtons Blog
Hurricanes May Carry Toxic Chemicals from Crude Oil and Dispersant Inland - Washingtons Blog

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hurricanes May Carry Toxic Chemicals from Crude Oil and Dispersant Inland

I have worried for months that hurricanes could deposit toxic chemicals from crude oil and dispersants inland.

A geochemist from East Carolina University, Siddhartha Mitra, was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the issue.

Unfortunately, as Dr. Mitra told National Geographic, toxic chemicals from both the oil and the Corexit might in fact be carried inland by a hurricane:

YouTube Video

In July, Marine toxicologist Dr. Ricki Ott and senior EPA analyst Hugh Kaufman both said that Gulf coastal communities should be evacuated. I assume that they would both say that the risk is substantially reduced, and that evacuations are no longer necessary. I will talk to both, and report back on their responses.


  1. In the beginning of this oil disaster, the Europeans with their fleet of high technology oil spill clean up vessels said they could clean up (remove the oil from the water) in three months. They were refused by BP and the US government.
    Corexist is an unscientific experiment with an unknown outcome and the Gulf Coast and its residence are the guinea pigs.

  2. Once again, great work! Please post what you find out. This is such a great blog - I hope more people find out about it and you get hundreds of supporters!

  3. We're halfway through the hurricane season now, and god willing there will be some time for these toxins to dissipate before the next one to hit the Gulf, but it doesn't take a hurricane to pick stuff up and move it inland. Any old rainfall will do, as much of the rainfall along the Gulf coast migrates inland from over the water.

    Hurricanes do carry an extra risk though, both in volume and in storm surge, which can push seawater sometimes miles ashore.

    We have over 5 million liters of reported dispersant application, and who knows how much unreported. I would love to know how much was applied at the source and how much was applied along the coast, where it is most politically expedient to not allow visible oil but also the most likely to impact humans directly. Not that the indirect effects are anything to sneeze at.

    The modern West has a dangerous tendency to over medicate itself. The giant dead zone at the Mississippi Delta is there not because of fertilizer use, but because of fertilizer overuse. Only the extra becomes runoff, and just that is enough to cause a deep environmental impact.

    With dispersants though, ever liter added is a definite unit of toxicity added to Gulf water, whether it is or isn't "extra." Even if the dispersants are only half as toxic as oil, that's 2.5 million extra liters of crude added to the equation with no rigorously proven long-term benefits.

    EPA's website does says that only 200 gallons of dispersants have been deployed since the "well was capped." I wish I could believe them.


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