Ottawa approves controversial chemical for ocean oil spills

Categories: News
Published on: July 22, 2016

The Tyee / Andrew Nikiforuk / 18 July 2016

CorexitDispersalThe federal government has quietly approved the use of a highly controversial chemical for dispersing ocean oil spills, despite growing scientific evidence it doesn’t always work as claimed and even intensifies the toxicity of oil.

Last month Environment Canada released regulations establishing a list of approved “treating agents” for oil spills that included Corexit EC 9500A, which sinks the oil and spreads it through the water column.

Exxon developed Corexit five decades ago to disperse and sink oil and avoid ugly petroleum slicks on beaches.

In 2010 BP used almost two million gallons of Corexit during its catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, prompting a raft of scientific studies that challenged its effectiveness and revived concerns about how such emulsifiers can make oil more toxic.