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BP Successfully Disposed of the Oil … In the Gulf Food Chain

There’s a great American tradition of “disposing” of toxic waste by putting it into things we eat.

For example, some folks have found a great way of disposing of toxic sludge: they helpfully relabel it as “organic compost” and then give it to people to grow food in. See this, this and this.

The Department of Energy also helpfully created the National Center of Excellence for Metals Recycle (NMR), which allegedly has allowed scrap metal from nuclear power plants to be recycled into utensils and other consumer items. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

And as I wrote in August:

The government allegedly ordered Manhattan Project scientists to whitewash the toxicity of flouride (flouride is a byproduct in the production of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium). As Project Censored noted in 1999:

Recently declassified government documents have shed new light on the decades-old debate over the fluoridation of drinking water, and have added to a growing body of scientific evidence concerning the health effects of fluoride. Much of the original evidence about fluoride, which suggested it was safe for human consumption in low doses, was actually generated by “Manhattan Project” scientists in the 1940s. As it turns out, these officials were ordered by government powers to provide information that would be “useful in litigation” and that would obfuscate its improper handling and disposal. The once top-secret documents, say the authors, reveal that vast quantities of fluoride, one of the most toxic substances known, were required for the production of weapons-grade plutonium and uranium. As a result, fluoride soon became the leading health hazard to bomb program workers and surrounding communities.

Studies commissioned after chemical mishaps by the medical division of the “Manhattan Project” document highly controversial findings. For instance, toxic accidents in the vicinity of fluoride-producing facilities like the one near Lower Penns Neck, New Jersey, left crops poisoned or blighted, and humans and livestock sick. Symptoms noted in the findings included extreme joint stiffness, uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea, severe headaches, and death. These and other facts from the secret documents directly contradict the findings concurrently published in scientific journals which praised the positive effects of fluoride.

Regional environmental fluoride releases in the northeast United States also resulted in several legal suits against the government by farmers after the end of World War II, according to Griffiths and Bryson. Military and public health officials feared legal victories would snowball, opening the door to further suits which might have kept the bomb program from continuing to use fluoride. With the Cold War underway, the New Jersey lawsuits proved to be a roadblock to America’s already full-scale production of atomic weapons. Officials were subsequently ordered to protect the interests of the government.

After the war, … the dissemination of misinformation continued.

Now, the nice folks at BP have done a great job of disposing of oil from its spill: in the Gulf food chain.

As AP notes:

Scientists say they have for the first time tracked how certain nontoxic elements of oil from the BP spill quickly became dinner for plankton, entering the food web in the Gulf of Mexico.

***

“Everybody is making a huge deal of where did the oil go,” said chief study author William “Monty” Graham, a plankton expert at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. “It just became food.”

***

Michael Crosby of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida didn’t take part in the study but said what fascinated him was that the carbon zipped through the food web faster than scientists expected. That in itself isn’t alarming, but if the nontoxic part of the oil is moving so rapidly through the food web, Crosby asks: “What has happened to the toxic compounds of the released oil?”

***

Graham’s study, released Monday, is published in Environmental Research Letters. It was mostly funded by the National Science Foundation, with additional money from the state of Alabama and BP’s Gulf Research Initiative, which distributed money through the Northern Gulf Institute in Mississippi.

Of course, if BP had used standard clean up procedures instead of hiding the oil with Corexit dispersant, things would have been much better.

View the original article at Washingtons Blog

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