Chemical Dispersant Research Paper

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Ecosystem effects
Oyster hatchery in Grand Isle, Louisiana
Clean up efforts have included unprecedented amounts of chemical dispersants, which are used to break up oil slicks. Although detailed effects of the chemical dispersants on wildlife and ecosystems are not well studied, the chemicals used are toxic to a variety of organisms, and they have never been previously used on this wide a scale. Because dispersants break oil up into tiny droplets, marine biologists fear that fish larvae, zooplankton and filter feeders (such as oysters), will be at risk from eating the large quantities of “non-visible” oil.
Chemical dispersants are likely to impact deep-water animals downstream of the well. Oil will likely reduce the amount and health of all
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Some are working to collect oil from the surface. As of Tuesday more than a million gallons of oil-water mix had been picked up. More than 40 miles of booms have been laid to try to contain the oil until it can be recovered or dispersed. The slick is also being attacked by airplanes dropping dispersant. BP has estimated the cost at about $6 million a day.
The Coast Guard also has tried burning off some of the oil. All these efforts have been hampered by bad weather and heavy seas. The weather seems to have calmed, however, and clean-up crews were expecting several days of quiet seas.
BP is on the hook for the cost of the cleanup and already faces dozens of lawsuits from commercial fishermen, tour boat operators and beachfront property owners. The company has also set up a claims center at 1-800-440-0858.It’s not clear how much the company will have to pay out for those damage claims. The Oil Pollution Act, passed after the Valdez spill in 1990, created a federal trust fund with taxes paid by oil companies. That law caps BP’s liability at $75 million, but a bill introduced in the Senate Monday would raise that to $10 billion.
The impact is potentially catastrophic; the Gulf coast is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, and marine wildlife is already struggling with various man-made stresses. Commercial fishing represents a $3 billion
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Dispersants cause the oil to break up into smaller droplets, which become miscible in water. However, these dispersants may result in more ecological harm than good. The chemicals contain nonbiodegradable toxins that can kill fish and migrate great distances. Dispersants also are blamed for the massive oil plumes several hundreds of feet underwater, harmful to all aquatic life, especially fish larvae and filter feeders. Moreover, because of the large volume of oil that has been spilled, the amount of dispersant required and the amount of oil dispersed simply suppresses the problem, rather than solving
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