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Open Letter from Louisiana State Senator A.G. Crowe to President Obama on the Gulf Oil Disaster and Use of Dispersants

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1/16/2011

The Honorable Barack Obama
The President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Re: The environmental impact of dispersing Corexit during and after the oil spill

Dear Mr. President;

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The BP incident in the Gulf of Mexico has now been acknowledged as the greatest manmade disaster in history but there is yet another manmade disaster that must not be overlooked and has not been adequately addressed in the recently released report of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

That second major disaster has been caused by the unnecessary use of the toxin Corexit dispersant. In early May of 2010 just after the crisis began, I requested that our Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell use whatever legal means were necessary to stop the use of this toxin. Shortly thereafter, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal requested that the use of this toxic dispersant be discontinued because of the long-term environmental damage. And still later, it was reported in the media that you also ordered BP to stop using Corexit. Surprisingly, I also read in the media that they even refused your request.

Mr. President, my concern is that this toxic and damaging chemical is still being used and it will compound the long-term damage to our state, our citizens, our eco-system, our economy, our seafood industry, our wildlife and our culture.

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I am well aware that our emphasis, resources and energy is currently engaged working through the administrative and legal proceedings of the oil disaster but we must also recognize and begin the same process to address the damage Corexit has done and will continue to do as we go forward.

As the State Senator for District 1 in the southeastern corner of the State of Louisiana representing the parishes of St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Orleans and Plaquemines, I respectfully request that you have your administrative officials provide the information requested in this letter. I need to make that information available to my constituents who are seeing their lives and lands threatened and their way of life hanging in the balance. Due to the threats to public safety and ecological realities, I am compelled to write this letter requesting answers to my questions regarding the role of the United States Government in administering the response to the crises in the Gulf. It is apparent that the response directed by our government was inadequate because it allowed the use of Corexit dispersants which increased the toxicity level of the spilled oil and delivered no substantial benefit.

Corexit dispersants increased the toxicity of the oil itself when the two were mixed together. Its use caused the cross contamination of the Gulf water column by forcing the transfer of the surface oil downward through the water column, causing the oil to sink to the Gulf floor. The result was an unnecessary elevated negative impact as this same oil moved ashore later to the tidal zones delivering toxic weathered oil to coastal residents, tourists and businesses and workers in the Gulf region.

Government officials stated over and over that the use of the dispersants was designed to break up the oil into smaller digestible parts to be consumed by the sub-sea living micro-organisms. This strategy is unsubstantiated. In fact, the Corexit dispersant created the opposite results since Corexit contains toxic ingredients which act as biocides to prevent microbial digestion of the oil. Physical evidence supports that the entire response administered by government agencies have been inadequate.

Independent scientists have reported the waters and our shores of the Gulf are toxic. It has been reported that the toxins in the Gulf waters are directly linked to the distribution of dispersants (Corexit 9500 and 9527A) introduced this summer (and since then) during the BP disaster. It has not all evaporated (gassed off) or digested by the microbes and the remaining contamination needs to be cleaned up and not hidden so that the toxins can be removed quickly from our Gulf for the safety of our citizens and to allow what remaining species of sea and wild life to recover; if at all possible.

Immediately following the accident, I spent a great deal of time researching this issue and met with numerous eminently qualified scientists and professionals with the hope of being able to save our coastal zone with the use of "bio-friendly" oil dispersants which I learned was available, safer, non-toxic and proven to be effective.

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Today, 9 months after the accident, there is still no plan by the United States Government to clean up the toxin Corexit. Many are concerned that the oil laced with this toxic dispersant is still in the Gulf being moved constantly by currents throughout the ecosystem spreading contamination.

It is well known by many reputable scientists and environmental watchdog groups that non-toxic bio-remediation products, such as "OSE-II" was and is available. It has been used all over the world by many countries, contractors, private industry and the United States military and has been proven to be a safe solution in the past. Moreover, these types of products possess unique properties such as hydraulic lift (causes oil to float) so that the sunken oil can be raised from the sediments and detoxified.

I believe that the officials at the BP science labs have been disingenuous about their supposed desire to protect the aquiculture of the Gulf and the livelihood of the families who harvest the fisheries of the Gulf, in that they have intentionally excluded safe, non-toxic and proven bio-remediation technology to clean up the oil and toxins. BP's refusal to use bio-remediation products to restore Gulf waters to pre-spill conditions is very disturbing to me since the EPA and USCG has approved bio-remediation for the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska years ago. BP has also used non-toxic bio-remediation technology in the Caribbean and in Africa. RPT 6 of the EPA has used OSE-II in U.S. waters as well.

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