Is the Oil Spill Debris in Landfills Hazardous to Our Health?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A worker hauls away a load of garbage bags filled with oil soaked boom on the beach on June 14, 2010 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. (Chris Graythen/Getty)

Attempts to permanently seal the ruptured BP oil rig are now well underway, but major concerns about the gusher's cleanup continue to swirl around the Gulf Coast. 

In particular, many local residents are concerned about the oily, solid debris from the massive spill. This debris includes oil-soaked booms, tar balls and sand, which are being dumped in common landfills along with everyday garbage. Although the EPA and individual states' environmental protection agencies have cleared the way for the dumping of the solid debris, residents are concerned that the waste filling their local landfills is hazardous.

LuAnn White, a toxicologist and the director of the Tulane Center for Applied Environmental Public Health, says that, although the waste may not be hazardous, people's concerns should be taken seriously after three months of hearing about the "toxic" oil spill. White says, "We have to worry about perception as much as anything else. There has to be a lot of education versus just a statement [saying the waste is not hazardous]." 


LuAnn White

Produced by:

Amanda Moore

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