Oil Spill: A Closer Look at Chemical Dispersants; Shrimping Season Begins

What to do when both the problem and the solution are bad

Monday, August 02, 2010

The oil unleashed into the Gulf of Mexico over the last months is a toxic danger to sea life and wetlands, but in a frustrating Catch-22, so is one of the key methods of fighting the oil. Chemical dispersants, though better (in most cases) for the environment than the oil itself, still pose different environmental hazards. BP says they have only used 1.8 million gallons of the dispersant "Corexit," but a Congressional inquiry may yet call those numbers into doubt. We look at the effects of the dispersant on the environment and talk to a shrimper about whether he's seen any toxicity in his catch as the season begins.

It is difficult to assess what that those 1.8 million gallons could mean for the Gulf ecosystems and for BP liability, because there isn't conclusive data on the impact of Corexit on such a large scale. That's one of the reasons the EPA required special approval for BP to use the product in all but "rare cases."

New York Times reporter Matt Wald says dispersants are like chemotherapy for the oil, in that they bring their own problems into the situation. "If you have a disease and the surgeon cures you, they use a sharp knife."

Delayed for almost a month because of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, shrimping season in Mobile Bay, Ala., is on its way, but is ramping up much more slowly than in years past. Gary Skinner, a shrimper and owner of Skinner Seafood, says it's not necessary the lack of shrimp that's really hurting him, but the lack of tourists.

 

Guests:

Gary Skinner and Matt Wald

Produced by:

David J Fazekas and Alex Goldmark

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