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Tom Philpott rails against government regulators over BP's wanton use of chemical dispersants:

As I reported in early May, the dispersant products, branded Corexit 9527A and Corexit 9500A, were made exclusively by a former Exxon subsidiary now owned by a company called Nalco. Exxon researchers had already acknowledged that they were significantly toxic for aquatic life. But just how toxic was mysteriousparticularly for humans. The publicly available data sheets for both products revealed that they have the “potential to bioconcentrate,” but added this stunner: “No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product.”

Information about their precise composition was also vague, clouded by a veil of secrecy based on “proprietary” concerns. I found the information scarcity outrageous. A private company fouls a vast public resource and then dumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of a toxic chemical potion into it. Doesn’t the public have the right to know precisely what’s in that potion?

(Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

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