Thursday, November 4, 2010
Senior EPA Analyst: Government "Doing a Cover Up" Regarding Dispersants, Trying to Reassure the Public Instead of Doing Honest Scientific Testing
The senior policy analyst at the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, and former the EPA ombudsman's chief investigator Hugh Kaufman told award-winning American journalist Dahr Jamail (writing for Al-Jazeera) that :
On October 29 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in a press release, new chemical testing for BP's dispersants.
Prior to the federal government's announcement, a "rigorous sensory analysis" (a sniff test), was the only measure in place to test seafood samples for dispersant contamination. According to the press release, the new testing measure checks for the level of dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (known as DOSS), a major component of the dispersants.
Surprisingly, the press release admits to dispersant chemicals being present in some of their seafood samples: "Using this new, second test, in the Gulf scientists have tested 1,735 tissue samples ... Only a few showed trace amounts of dispersants residue (13 of the 1,735) and they were well below the safety threshold of 100 parts per million [ppm] for finfish and 500 parts per million for shrimp, crabs and oysters."
"This test adds another layer of information, reinforcing our findings to date that seafood from the Gulf remains safe," Jane Lubchenco, undersecretary for commerce and NOAA administrator, said of the test.
However the press release does not specify which type of analytical testing was carried out on what types of seafood, nor what the "trace amounts of dispersants" were. Al Jazeera's requests last week for this information from both NOAA and the FDA have not been answered.
"The purpose of the test they developed is to make the public confident, not whether the seafood was safe or not.
"They selected the one compound that doesn’t bio-accumulate, as opposed to testing for the toxic ingredients that have a low safety threshold and do build up in tissue. They are not looking for those."
Kaufman, who has been the EPA's chief investigator on several contamination cases, including Love Canal and Times Beach, said: "They want to be able to tell the public the seafood is safe. But if you are going to test seafood to see if it’s safe or not, you want to test for the ingredients of Corexit that have a low safety threshold and do bio-accumulate in tissue."
"However, if you want the public to think everything is fine, then you do what they said in their press release they are doing, which is to look for an ingredient with a high safety threshold that doesn’t build up in tissue."
"They told you they are doing a cover up, how they are doing the cover up, and notwithstanding that, they still have some positive results for chemicals."
Kaufman believes one of the main problems with federal response to the oil disaster is that, "BP called most of the shots, and that was the problem, and clearly from this press release, looks like they still are. The more the public thinks everything is back to normal, the less people who were harmed by the mess will be reimbursed. Follow the money".
Kaufman has previously slammed government agencies for covering up the danger of dispersants.