Coast Guard, EPA OK Subsea Use of Dispersant for Spill

Over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authorized BP to use dispersants underwater, at the source of the Deepwater Horizon leak.

According to the agencies, preliminary testing results indicate that subsea use of the dispersant is effective at reducing the amount of oil from reaching the surface – and can do so with the use of less dispersant than is needed when the oil does reach the surface. This is an important step to reduce the potential for damage from oil reaching fragile wetlands and coastal areas.

“We will continue our relentless efforts to secure the source of the spill. In the meantime, we will employ every available technique we can to minimize the environmental impact on coastal habitats, communities and the marine ecosystem. This requires a responsible assessment of the risks and benefits of specific tactics,” said Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen, the national incident commander for the spill.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said: “Dispersants are not the silver bullet. They are used to move us toward the lesser of two difficult environmental outcomes. Until the flow of oil is stemmed, we must continue to take any responsible action that will reduce the impact of the spill, and that is what we are doing.”

While BP pursues the use of subsea dispersants, the federal government will require regular analysis of its effectiveness and impact on the environment, water and air quality, and human health through a rigorous monitoring program.

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