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EPA tells BP to use less toxic dispersant

The EPA issued a directive today requiring BP to use a less toxic and more effective dispersant from a list of EPA authorized dispersants.

Dispersants are a chemical used to break up oil into small droplets so that they are more easily degraded.

The directive requires BP to select a less toxic alternative the the dispersant that it has been using, both on the surface and under the water at the source of the oil leak. The company has 24 hours to select it and 72 hours of submitting the alternative to begin using it.

If BP is unable to identify available alternative dispersant products, BP must provide the Coast Guard and EPA with a detailed description of the alternative dispersants investigated, and the reason they believe those products did not meet the required standards.

While the dispersant BP has been using is on the agency's approved list, BP is using this dispersant in unprecedented volumes and, last week, began using it underwater at the source of the leak, a procedure that has never been tried before.

EPA officials said the agency wants to ensure BP is using the least toxic product authorized.

On Saturday, the EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard authorized BP to use dispersants underwater at the source of the Deepwater Horizon leak.

BP is required to do rigorous monitoring so EPA scientists may determine the dispersants’ effectiveness and impact on the environment, water and air quality, and human health, the EPA said today. EPA is posting the information for the public.

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