Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the watchdog group, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, also testified before the Senate Subcommittee. Rolfes decried the lack of information on dispersants, saying the lack of clear scientific data mandates that "there be no assurances of safety by any party, especially the EPA, NOAA, other government bodies or BP."
I am concerned about the effect the lack of information about dispersants has on NOAA's ability to track and test for them. How, for instance, is NOAA going to track dispersants through the currents and water column, especially below the surface. How can the federal government ask these questions when they can't even get and/or share basic safety information about the dispersants being used?
Rolfes' organization also took aim today at the EPA for incomplete data on air quality monitoring.
A new analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency's BP oil spill air monitoring reveals that the EPA monitoring network, while unprecedented in its scope, has still fallen short of documenting exposure in Louisiana in the days since the oil spill.
The review of EPA's sampling examined monitoring that took place from the time of the spill until July 10th. Results from benzene, hydrogen sulfide and particulate matter sampling were compared to health standards. LABB cited troubling reports of hydrogen sulfide in Venice as well as repeatedly high benzene readings throughout the region. The review found that sampling for particulate matter 2.5 - small airborne particles known to aggravate the respiratory system - should be enhanced.
While the EPA says pollution levels are "good" to "moderate" and "unhealthy for sensitive groups" at worst, Rolfes insists there has been no baseline to determine what is "normal" for the monitoring sites.
There is some data being collected about some of the better known VOCs (volatile organic carbons) and compounds that are classified as "IDLH" -- Immediate Danger to Life and Health. The EPA released a new database on the popular document-sharing network Socrata this week, but LABB criticizes local data sampling as being inadequate.
Bottom line? No one knows for certain what are "safe" levels of dispersants, oil, and VOCs in the air and water. There was no baseline to begin with, agencies are overlapping or not doing their jobs, and there are still 80 days worth of oil and dispersants in the Gulf to contend with.
Note: The oil photos are for perspective. The only adjustments made in Photoshop to these are tone, contrast, and levels corrections to adjust the image to better represent how it looked in real life and to eliminate the glare of the sun. Nothing has been added or subtracted from these photos. (Nick Zantop)
Cross posted with Huffington Post