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The Guardian: US government toughens rules on chemicals used to break up oil slicks

The Guardian: US government toughens rules on chemicals used to break up oil slicks

1 min read

Environmental activists sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to update regulations after thousands of people were sickened from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup, Sara Sneath writes for The Guardian.

In a nutshell:

The EPA is beefing up rules governing responses to offshore oil spills as ongoing research continues to show links between exposure to chemical dispersants and myriad chronic illnesses suffered by Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez clean-up workers. Exposure to dispersants has been linked to increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular damage and negative birth outcomes, among other health impacts.

Key quote:

“What has happened to the BP workers and coastal residents with all these illnesses and lingering harm and sick and dying children. Nobody wants that to happen again,” said Riki Ott, an Alaska toxicologist and director of Earth Island Institute’s Alert Project, lead plaintiff in the case.

Big picture:

The rule changes come months after the U.S. Department of the Interior auctioned new leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet, despite campaign promises by Joe Biden to halt drilling as a response to climate change. The Interior Department had estimated a nearly 1 in 5 chance of a large spill in the Cook Inlet region if further offshore drilling went forward.

Cleanup workers, particularly those experiencing long-term health problems, have had a tough path to victory with medical suits brought against oil companies, notes Sneath. A recent investigation byThe Guardianrevealed that BP cleanup workers in the Gulf of Mexico were provided with training materials assuring that the dispersants used contained no harmful substances — a blatant inaccuracy that the new rules also seek to address, in part by requiring disclosure of all chemicals ingredients in dispersants.

Read the full story in The Guardian.

About the author(s):

EHN Staff

Articles written and posted by staff at Environmental Health News

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