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Feds instruct BP to decrease its use of dispersants

By David A. Fahrenthold

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and BP continued to feud Monday about the right kind of chemical dispersant to use on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the meantime, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said she had given BP an order: use less dispersant overall.

Jackson, speaking at a press conference with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary E. Landry, said she had told BP to "significantly scale back the overall use of dispersants." That might mean cutting them by more than half, Jackson said.

Jackson said the reduction should come mainly in dispersants used on the surface. She said this was possible because the chemicals that are being injected into the leaking oil on the gulf floor seem to be working.

On Wednesday, the EPA told BP that it had 24 hours to choose a less-toxic dispersant than the two it was relying on, Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A.

BP replied none of the dispersants that met EPA's criteria were available in large enough quantities to deal with the huge spill. "BP continues to believe...COREXIT remains the best option for subsea application," it said in a letter later released by the EPA.

In the press conference Monday, Jackson called BP's response "not sufficient."

"There seemed to be a belief that because they had a supply of Corexit, that was a reason not to order something else," she said.

Jackson said that the EPA had ordered BP to continue looking for alternatives, and that the EPA would begin its own testing of dispersant chemicals at a lab in Florida.

"EPA will be performing our own scientific verification of data," Jackson said. "Our 'tox' tets will address the claims and conclusions put forward by BP." She said they would take at least several days.

Overall, Jackson said, the EPA believes that using dispersants is still a better idea than not using them. "Dispersants continue to be the best of two very
difficult choices," she said.

By

David A. Fahrenthold

 |  May 24, 2010; 6:20 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Federal, state and BP officials feud over spill response | Next: Greens call for Salazar's resignation

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