(NaturalNews) It's true the almost five million barrels of oil that contaminated the Gulf of Mexico during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill was an ecological nightmare. And residents of the area have complained for the last two years that the chemicals dumped into the area as an ill-thought-out solution have made many of them sick. But what about the ocean itself that has been treated as an experimental chemical dump by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and corporate giant BP?
Turns out, according to new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes (UAA) in Mexico, the two million gallons of the dispersant Corexit which the EPA dictated had to be used to supposedly clean up the oil spill made the situation worse -- far worse. In fact, the chemicals turned the situation into nothing less than a 52 times more toxic ecological disaster.
"Dispersants are preapproved to help clean up oil spills and are widely used during disasters," UAA's Roberto-Rico Martinez, who led the study, said in a media statement. "But we have a poor understanding of their toxicity. Our study indicates the increase in toxicity may have been greatly underestimated following the Macondo well explosion."
In toxicity tests in the lab, the mix of the chemicals which the EPA demanded must be used on the spill and the oil itself greatly increased the death rate of five strains of rotifers, a microscopic grazing animal that is key to the gulf's food chain. Because of their fast response time and sensitivity to toxins, rotifers are considered one of the "gold standards" by ecotoxicologists (scientists who study the toxic impact of chemicals on ecological systems) to assess toxicity in marine life.
Not only did the oil and chemical mix kill adult rotifers, it only took about 2.6 percent of the oil-dispersant mixture to reduce rotifer egg hatching by 50 percent. Why is this crucial to the ecosystem of the oceans? Because these eggs hatch into rotifers every spring and then reproduce in the water -- providing food for baby fish, shrimp and crabs in estuaries. Simply put, the ecosystem food chain is wrecked starting at the bottom.
The results of the research were just published online by Environmental Pollution and are set for publication in the February 2013 print edition of this journal. "Perhaps we should allow the oil to naturally disperse. It might take longer, but it would have less toxic impact on marine ecosystems," Georgia Tech Biology Professor Terry Snell, whose lab was used for the research, said in a press statement.
Meanwhile, on November 15th, BP was back in the news. The giant oil company has agreed to plead guilty and pay fines totaling $4.5 billion for 14 criminal acts BP committed related to the gulf oil spill. These criminal acts include 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect related to the deaths of 11 people in the Deepwater Horizon accident in April of 2010. A law enforcement official told the New York Times that two BP employees face charges of manslaughter in the case. Sources:
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.