Will Oil Spill Control Methods Carry Tragic Repercussions?

Grist has an interesting post about the potentially overlooked aspect of the methods being used to control the Gulf Coast oil spill. BP and the United States Coast Guard are currently using a technique that involves dumping mass quantities of chemicals into the water in an attempt to break down oil particles. The compositional uncertainty of these dispersants, however, might become a cause for concern in the future. Here's a snippet of what we're looking at:
How much are they dumping? Lots. According to ProPublica, "BP has already bought up more than a third of the world's supply" of dispersants. On Thursday alone, ProPublica reports, emergency workers dropped 100,000 gallons of the stuff into the Gulf. And what precisely are they dumping? That's where the mystery come in. "The exact makeup of the dispersants is kept secret under competitive trade laws," Propublica reports.
We don't want to sound the alarms of paranoia until we've considered what we know, scientifically, about these chemicals, but the sheer magnitude of substances being dumped definitely heightens the potential risk to volatile ecosystems. Then again, there's only so much we can do when catastrophe strikes. We have an imperative to react, and things might come to a point where we're choosing between the lesser of two environmental evils.

Let's just hope we understand the potential repercussions of what we're doing.

Head to Grist for the full post.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, via Grist.