Jerry Moran / Native Orleanian Fine Photography
This photo and laboratory tests indicating that this foamy substance is dispersed oil have raised questions about the government's assurances that the toxic chemical was not sprayed after the Deepwater Horizon well was capped.
Kari Huus writes:The use of chemical dispersants in the wake of the massive BP oil spill ended on July 15, when the broken Deepwater Horizon well was capped, with only one exception four days later, according to federal agencies. But photos and chemical lab results obtained by msnbc.com suggest that the controversial chemicals have been sprayed much more recently than that.
The photos and tests lend credence to persistent but unsubstantiated reports by Gulf Coast residents that the spraying of dispersants has continued well beyond the cutoff date acknowledged by the Deepwater Horizon response team.
The image above — time stamped and embedded with geographical coordinates — was captured by New Orleans photographer Jerry Moran off the coast of Mississippi when he was out with scientists on Aug. 9
“We were on our way back to Ocean Springs from Horn Island, about a mile or two off the coast … (and) we ran into these hundreds of yards long swaths of that cauliflower stuff,” said Moran.
Moran said the foamy substance on the water’s surface looked just like what he encountered while covering the oil spill response when dispersant — a product with the brand name Corexit — was being applied daily to oil slicks. The smell was unmistakable, he said.
“I almost passed out from the fumes,” he said. “It smelled like a gas station.”
An environmental technician who was present took water samples, which were then sent to a certified lab -- ALS Laboratory Group in Fort Collins.
The results, according to environmental investigator and engineer Marco Kaltofen, president of Boston Chemical Data Corp.: “Definitively Corexit and BP petroleum.”
Kaltofen is among the scientists retained by New Orleans attorney Stuart Smith to conduct independent environmental testing data from the Gulf on behalf of clients who are seeking damages from BP. (Click here to read about their effort.)
An independent marine chemist who reviewed the data said that their conclusion stands up.
“The analytical techniques are correct and well accepted,” said Ted Van Vleet, a professor at the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. “Based on their data, it does appear that dispersant is present.”
Why responders would continue to use chemical dispersants after the government announced a halt is a mystery. If the oil was gone or already dispersed, as the federal government and BP have said, what would be the point? And, because dispersants don’t work very well on oil that has been “weathered” by the elements over long periods of times, there would be little point in spraying it that situation.SEE MORE OF THE STORY AND THE COMMENTS HERE: