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Conservation Groups Act to Uncover What’s In Gulf Oil Dispersants

Public should know about chemicals’ effect on the environment
July 14, 2010
Washington, D.C. —

Earthjustice filed suit today against the federal government, seeking critical information about the chemical dispersants being used on the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil leak. The dispersants are being used in unprecedented amounts and no one knows what the immediate and long-term effects will be.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Gulf Restoration Network and the Florida Wildlife Federation, challenges the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to tell the public what the secret ingredients are in the chemical dispersants that the agency has deemed eligible for use in oil spills. The suit also seeks all health and safety information that the EPA has on the dispersants and their ingredients.

“We need to know more about these dispersants,” said Earthjustice attorney Marianne Engelman Lado. “Once we have more information on the ingredients, as well as what alternatives could be used, everyone involved, including workers, policy makers, and researchers, can make better, more informed decisions.”

The groups brought the lawsuit after the EPA failed to produce the information requested under the Freedom of Information Act on May 28. The EPA disclosed the secret ingredients of the two chemical dispersants used in the Gulf oil spill, but the agency has not released the other requested health and safety information.

“We’re trying to give the public essential information needed to understand the impacts of this oil spill and protect Gulf resources from more devastating damage,” said Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network.

Well over 1 million gallons of dispersants have been used so far, and for the first time, dispersants are being applied under the ocean, where the oil is pouring into the Gulf.

The chemical ingredients in the dispersants are subject to the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. This law requires chemical manufacturers to submit health and safety studies that exist, the underlying data, and reports of potential adverse effects to EPA. Other federal law requires manufacturers of the dispersants to submit data on the toxicity and effectiveness of the dispersants. Today’s lawsuit seeks this very critical safety information.

“The public has a right to know what the dispersants being used in the Gulf will do to the Gulf—and to its wildlife,” said Manley Fuller of the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Read the complaint

Contacts

Marianne Engelman Lado, Earthjustice, (212) 791-1881, ext. 228

Cynthia Sarthou, Gulf Restoration Network, (504) 525-1528, ext. 202

Manley Fuller, Florida Wildlife Federation, (850) 656-7113, or cell: (850) 567-7129

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.