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BP Gulf Oil Spill — Shrimpers Concerned About Chemical Dispersants

Posted on May 17, 2010

Florida officials want to remind the public that Florida beaches are still open for business and that the Florida waters in the Gulf remain open to commercial and recreational fishing. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is in the process of identifying the most vulnerable fish and wildlife habitats to focus protective measures while they establish a baseline for measuring any damage later on. Gulf spill losses are already affecting the livelihoods of the tourism related business as well as commercial fishermen, guides and charter boat operators.

The latest worry concerns the chemical dispersant being used in the Gulf and questions whether it will lead to long-lasting environmental disaster. Based on a St. Petersburg Times report, shrimpers believe that a series of dead zones could be created by the chemical dispersants, contaminating and killing marine life. One group in particular, the Tarpon Springs based Southern Shrimper Alliance has written their concerns to the federal officials. The dispersant in question is called Corexit 9500 made by Nalco Energy Services. BP has been spraying it on the slick and airplanes have sprayed 315,000 gallons on the gulf’s surface. The dispersant breaks up the oil into finely dispersed oil droplets taking it to the Gulf floor, being eaten by fish, oil-eating bacteria or coating fish and birds.

The shrimpers are concerned that the oil could end up on the Gulf floor where shrimp larvae would be affected. And there have been no toxicity studies on the product or studies on how it could affect wetlands, marine life, the coast or people. Corexit 9500 has been approved by the EPA, but so have many other chemicals that undergo no safety tests. There are indicators that the chemical can be stored in tissues. It really comes down to a question of saving the beach at the expense of the ocean, says the National Academy of Sciences. A consortium of attorneys concludes that there is no way of knowing now what the long-term effects will be for sea life and humans. If you have experienced economic loss due to the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, you may want to contact an oil spill disaster Florida lawyer for more information about your legal rights.