State outraged over BP dispersants

By David Spunt - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some state officials are outraged after they say BP is railroading them, and using chemical dispersants in the Gulf, against their advice.

Late Friday, Governor Bobby Jindal's office received a notice from BP and federal officials announcing the move. The dispersant chemicals are supposed to break up the oil into smaller particles, making it easier to manage.

Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine says BP is not even sure if the proposed dispersant called Corexit will work, and safely.

"We don't have any data or evidence behind the use of these chemicals in the water," Levine said.

Levine says the effects could be devastating, while BP tests and uses the dispersants at the same time.

"We're now basically using one of the richest ecosystems in the world as basically a laboratory and it's not appropriate," he said.

It's a charge BP has denied from the start. The company stands by the plan.

"The dispersants are EPA approved and they've been through lots of testing. They are biodegradable and we believe it's a very effective way of containing this spill until such time as we can eliminate the leak," said BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says the dispersants have never been tested thousands of feet below the surface, and could potentially pose a serious threat to health and business.

"We're very disappointed in their approach. The federal procedures call for a consensus between federal authorities, the responsible party and the states involved. When we met and expressed our concerns, apparently they decided to go without us," Barham said.

Levine and Barham said the state does not plan to file a lawsuit to stop the chemicals. The secretaries are planning to develop a seafood safety certification program, and they want BP to foot that bill.

Copyright 2010 WAFB. All rights reserved.