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Oceanographer: "Grave concern" over reports of dispersant use; Seen "similar things"
User ID: 1050760
08/26/2010 02:10 PM
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Dahr Jamail, independent journalist who has been reporting from the Gulf Coast for the past month.
Ian Macdonald, oceanographer at Florida State University.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about who is spraying the dispersant, Dahr?
DAHR JAMAIL: These men, along with numerous other commercial fishermen, all of which were members of the VOO program in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western Panhandle of Florida, are all pointing the finger at BP for hiring out-of-state contractors, meaning not Gulf Coast community workers but people who don't live on the—in the Gulf Coast region, to come in and go out in a type of boat called a Carolina Skiff, which is basically being used as a utility boat. Both Miller and Stewart both told me they've been eyewitness to this. And these boats basically go out to the areas that VOO workers identify as oiled areas, that the VOO workers will go up in all four states over the last several months, find the oil, call in the location to BP command, be sent away from that oil, and then they will see, as they go in from their day of work out on the water, they'll see these foreign—these out-of-state contract workers, private contractors, going out in these Carolina Skiff boats with big white tanks in them, 375-gallon white tanks, and go out and spray the oil. And Stewart and Miller both told me they were eyewitness to this personally, that they saw these boats at times hosing down from the boats with dispersants giant patches of oil floating in the water. And then, when they would come—the VOO workers would come back out the next day, go to where the oil was they had located the day before, and there would be nothing but a big pasty, white, emulsified, foamy substance atop the water, which has become commonly known throughout the Gulf region now as the remnants of dispersed oil, after they come out, hit it with dispersants, sink the oil, and then that's all that's left. And this has been reported to me by commercial fishermen, most of which were members of the VOO program in all four of the most heavily affected states to date.
AMY GOODMAN: Ian MacDonald, can you talk about the danger of these dispersants? Do you understand what it is, and that whole issue of the fact that it was proprietary, the company that made it? Did you and other scientists, the US government, ever reveal exactly what was in these dispersants and their effect on the marine life in the ocean?
IAN MacDONALD: I think we have a better idea what's in the dispersant now than we did to begin with. There have been a couple of different types of dispersant applied. Apparently, what they were using to start out with was fairly toxic overstocks, and then they came out with a newer formulation that was less toxic. I think if the Carolina Skiff operation that we've just heard described is what's going forward, I'll say that I've seen similar things offshore Louisiana, offshore Venice. If you go out to the tide line, after the oil stopped flowing, what it tends to do is the thin layers of oil roll over on themselves, and they roll over and roll over until they become huge gooey mats of a sort of a ropey light brown stuff, which floats in the tide line. I mean, it's not a continuous thing, but there are these big clumps of it. You know, the appropriate response would be to go out and try to skim it up and remove it from the ecosystem. But if you use dispersant in the way that's been described, what you do is you hide it from view. You sink it to the bottom of the ocean, with the hope that somehow or another Mother Nature is going to clean it up for you. So, essentially, what's been described here, dispersant is being used to sweep this stuff under the rug, instead of remove it from the house. And, you know, that is a matter of grave concern, if that's what's happening on a broad scale.
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