August 6, 2010
Environmental experts called the use of chemical dispersants on the BP oil spill an "experiment" with "massive unknowns" in a Senate hearing Wednesday, as federal officials both defended BP's use of the chemicals and called for more research.
Texas Tech University Professor Ronald Kendall called the use of dispersants in the Gulf a "massive ecological toxic experiment" in need of in-depth, peer-reviewed research.
"We have no idea what the deepwater injection of dispersants into the water column ... impact is," Kendall said. "Dispersants are a tool, but they need to be fully researched ... to truly apply them in the best stewardship possible."
Smith said the impacts "may be less noticeable, but they could be more devastating than oil washing ashore."
Kendall compared dispersants to pesticides, but said that while pesticide manufacturers had to provide both acute and chronic data about the substances in order to be registered, dispersant manufacturers were only required to provide acute data. As a result, Kendall said, it was impossible to evaluate the substances' toxic impact on the environment.