EPA Dumps Dispersant Rules After 14 Years

Jan 16, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is releasing its newest plan for regulating dispersants, the chemicals used to combat oil spills.  Despite years of delay, the move is being heralded by environmentalists.

David Guest
Credit Earth Justice

Five years ago, when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, company officials poured nearly 2 million gallons of dispersant onto the slick. Critics called the move a crap shoot at best. Existing regulations weren’t strong enough to determine whether the chemicals were dangerous or if they would work, says Earth Justice Attorney David Guest.

He says the new rules will force manufacturers to conduct more detailed testing and release the results.

“When you put a chemical that’s that toxic into the ocean at such gigantic quantities, you have to know these things before you do it," he says.

The regulations were 14 years in the making. The public has 90 days to comment before the rules are adopted. They were released shortly after a federal judge in New Orleans ruled that BP could face 14 billion dollars in fines related to the spill.