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The response by both BP and the federal government to the blowout made a bad situation exponentially worse. Inexplicably, despite causing the largest environmental disaster in the history of our nation, the government decided to let BP dictate how to deal with the situation. Every responsible federal agency including the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of the Interior (DOI), and National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) was placed at BP's disposal and instructed to cooperate. On the few occasions where an agency director moved to rein BP in, such as Lisa Jackson's attempt to halt the use of the highly toxic Nalco Corexit dispersant, the Obama administration moved decisively to support BP without regard for the health and welfare of the American public or the environmental consequences. The Coast Guard, using C130s, deployed an unprecedented amount of Corexit over the Gulf, at least 1.8 million gallons. BP also deployed Corexit deep underwater at the Source, which had never been done before with entirely unknown impacts. Not a single NATO ally nation allows the use of dispersants (much less Corexit) in response to an oil spill except as a last resort and then exceptions are granted only after formal consideration.
The dispersant moved the oil below the surface and out of sight into the water column below, thereby presenting a more acceptable image for media consumption. Basically an industrial solvent, when combined with the crude oil creates a more potent toxic brew with greater potential for damage to biological organisms. Once the oil has been "dispersed," more accurately described as sunk in smaller balls, it became virtually impossible to collect by traditional cleanup methods such as skimming. The highly toxic Corexit 9527, which has approximately 60% 2-butoxyethanol by volume and is know to bioaccumulate and cause genetic damage, was admitted to being used initially. Authorities claimed those supplies were exhausted by mid-May. On the contrary, containers of 9527 were discovered as late as mid-August. BP and the government also claimed that all dispersant use was terminated in mid-July, aside from a very small amount. This too was not true. Corexit was being deployed on Dauphin Island as late as mid-September, and reports by locals continued though early October. Independent tests along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida continued in August and September to show markers for Corexit in both air and soil samples at dangerously high levels, including inland waterways, estuaries, and lagoons.
The actual loss of marine life due to the blowout will never be known due to a total lack of transparency on the part of BP, its subcontractors, and the government agencies involved. When the oil began moving in toward the coast and shortly after the first pictures of a dead sperm whale made international news, the FAA closed off the airspace over the Gulf to prevent media from acquiring images from planes. Also, marine traffic was severely restricted by the Coast Guard, and no non-essential personnel were allowed on the water near any cleanup operations. No cell phones, cameras or electronic devices were permitted on board any BP contracted boats in the Gulf during that time. Finally, new regulations were put in place that made it a class 3 felony punishable by a $40,000 fine and imprisonment to get closer than 60 feet of any cleanup operation. Cleanup workers were ordered not to talk to anyone about any aspect of the spill or face immediate termination. Surveillance cameras were placed along the beaches to monitor worker contact with media and the public.