It’s too late for the corals and fish of the Gulf of Mexico, which are the country’s largest experiment in how the highly toxic dispersant called Corexit affects them.
But it’s not too late for California’s marine community, which is why activists sued in a San Francisco court to protect Pacific sea turtles, whales and other endangered species and habitats.
Conservation groups sued to force the government to determine the dispersants’ safety for endangered species before and not after their use, as occurred during the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster three years ago.
It was announced today that the efforts of the Center for Biological Diversity along with San Clemente, Calif.-based Surfrider Foundation and San Francisco’s Pacific Environment were successful. They wanted to force the US Coast Guard and the EPA to ensure that dispersants used in federal waters off the California coast will not harm marine life.
The groups had forced the federal government to learn from the BP oil spill’s aftermath, and this enormous litmus test that’s seeing whole coral colonies and killifish, among other species, sickened or die.
Residents of the Gulf of Mexico, human residents, have complained of a host of health effects, from liver damage to respiratory distress. Divers who swam in dispersant-infested waters and individuals who worked on the Vessels of Opportunity are just some of the hundreds complaining of rashes or even cognitive damage.
Fish cannot call a news conference the way humans can, but if they could they’d remind you that there are ill-formed shrimp and crabs in the Gulf. This is what was dredged up in April 2012 when a team from Louisiana State University Oceanography and Coastal Sciences found lesions and stark deformities in sea life.
These horrors are what the California consortium worked hard to avoid, and they had their day in court to prove it.
In their press release issued today, CBD’s Deirde McDonnell said that:
“We shouldn’t add insult to injury after an oil spill by using dispersants that put wildlife and people at risk. During the BP oil spill, no one knew what the long-term effects of chemical dispersants would be, and we’re still learning about their harm to fish and corals. People can avoid the ocean after an oil spill, but marine animals can’t. They’re forced to eat, breathe and swim in the chemicals we put in the water, whether it’s oil or dispersants.”
The court settlement, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, requires the federal government to analyze the effects of approving the California Dispersants Plan — which authorizes the use of dispersants in the event of a spill — to determine whether these toxins would harm endangered wildlife.
For more information on today’s announcement, please click here.
Emphases the Examiner’s.