Understanding the science of dispersants and upcoming EPA revisions to national oil spill contingency plans

(Washington, DC) – On January 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm Eastern Time, the ALERT Project and Government Accountability Project (GAP) will co-host a webinar to help members of the media understand the destructive impact of certain dispersants currently used to clean up oil spills. The webinar is offered because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering changes to current dispersant regulations.

The webinar will give an overview of the National Contingency Plan for oil spill response, the rulemaking process, and the effects of oil and dispersants on human health, wildlife, and the environment. The panel of speakers will include Samantha Joye, PhD; Susan Shaw, PhD; Riki Ott, PhD; Ira Leifer, PhD; Robert Mathis, MD; and GAP Investigator Shanna Devine.

On the fourth anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, in partnership with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, GAP released Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf: Are Public Health and Environmental Tragedies the New Norm for Oil Spill Cleanups? The report detailed whistleblowers’ eye-witness accounts of the devastating long-term effects on human health and the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem stemming from BP and the federal government’s widespread use of the dispersant Corexit, in response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Since that time, GAP and the Coalition to Ban Toxic Dispersants have called on the EPA to update its regulations for dispersant use. The EPA plans to open the public comment period for its proposed rulemaking on dispersant use during oil spill response sometime this month.

Wednesday’s webinar is intended to lay a foundation for the media to help the public understand this issue. Items will include:

  • Overview of the national contingency plan, Subpart J, and existing gaps in coverage, including public health, worker safety, unconventional oils, sinking agents, public involvement, and more;
  • Fate and effects of dispersants and oil-solvent combination;
  • Human health impacts of oil and dispersants/solvents combined; and
  • Use of freshwater dispersants.

For over four decades, chemical dispersants have been the oil industry’s favorite spill response tool for breaking up surface slicks. However, the unprecedented release of at least 1.8 million gallons of Corexit dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout has raised concerns among scientists, public health care professionals, public health and environmental advocacy organizations, and the public about the future of dispersants in spill response – and a growing body of evidence and science validates these concerns. Dispersant-like solvents are also used as diluents for tar sands oil and as fracking fluids. Panelists will address what is and isn’t covered under the existing national contingency plan.

Science and Policy WEBINAR for Media
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
1:00 PM EST
Register Here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Contact information for the webinar speakers are listed below.


Contact: Riki Ott, PhD, Director, ALERT Project (Webinar Moderator)
Phone: 206-853-2855
Email: amend@alertproject.org

Contact: Shanna Devine, Investigator & Legislative Director, Government Accountability Project
Phone: 202-457-0068 x 132
Email: shannad@whistleblower.org

Contact: Samantha Joye, PhD, Dept. of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia
Phone: 706-542-5893
Email: mjoye@uga.edu

Contact: Robert Mathis, MD, Clinical Nutrition Specialist, American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine
Phone: 805-570-4400
Email: rpmath@sprintmail.com

Contact: Susan Shaw, PhD, Marine & Environmental Research Institute, Center for Environmental Studies
Phone: 207-374-2135
Email: sshaw@meriresearch.org

Government Accountability Project
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.