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Earthjustice Sues EPA for Oil Dispersant Safety Information

Under the federal Toxics Substances Control Act, chemical manufacturers are required to submit health and safety studies to the EPA. Other federal law requires manufacturers of the oil dispersants being used by BP to submit data on the toxicity and effectiveness of the dispersants.

Earthjustice went to court today representing the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation to get that information.

While the EPA has disclosed the secret ingredients of the two chemical dispersants, the agency has not released the health and safety studies. The lawsuit also seeks to uncover what's in other chemical dispersants approved for use by the EPA on oil spills.

So far, BP has pumped more than 1.8 million gallons of the oil dispersants into the Gulf. But no one really knows what the long-term consequences to humans, wildlife, and the environment will be.

Critics of the dispersant use believe BP intended to hide the extent of the disaster by sinking the oil in the water column rather than allowing it to accumulate on the water's surface. Dispersant defenders say sinking the oil prevents it from washing up on shores or marshes.

Regardless of intent, the health and safety information on the chemicals must be made public. A Senate hearing is scheduled this week on that very subject.

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