And by last July, the “severely oiled” areas were already bouncing back. “Van Heerden’s assessment team showed me around Casse-tete Island in Timbalier Bay,” wrote Time Magazine’s Michael Grunwald last July, “where new shoots of Spartina (marsh) grasses were sprouting in oiled marshes and new leaves were already growing on the first black mangroves I’ve ever seen that were actually black. ”
“Ah!” you ask. “But what about that poisonous chemical used as a dispersant for the oil?”
You probably ingested traces of this poisonous chemical compound with last night’s dinner, and other traces probably coat your pots, pans, cups, spoons and forks right now. Some people call the dispersant Corexit 9500 — and some call it “soap.” Essentially, it’s Dawn dishwashing detergent.
“Dispersants are not very toxic.” Explains Dr. Robert Dickey, director of the FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory. “They are detergents and solvents. And they become rapidly diluted. One square mile of sea water one foot deep is 200 million gallons. We added 1.8 million gallons in the whole Gulf.”
The point is: you add a much higher concentration to your kitchen sink to make your dishes “safe” for your family.
After the spill, the FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Seafood Inspection Laboratory, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, along with similar agencies from neighboring Gulf coast states, have methodically and repeatedly tested Gulf seafood for cancer-causing “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.”
“Not a single sample [for oil or dispersant] has come anywhere close to levels of concern,” reported Olivia Watkins, executive media advisor for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
“All of the samples have been 100-fold or even 1,000-fold below all of these levels,” reports Bob Dickey, director of the FDA’s Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory. “Nothing ever came close to these levels.”
“Fine,” some might say. But kindly define what constitutes this “level of concern.”
“The small amount of hydrocarbons in a seafood meal is much less than the exposure from pumping gas,” explains the LA Department of Health and Hospitals’ Dr. Jimmy Guidry.
“Anyone who smokes one cigarette gets more PAHs than they could get from eating gallons of any Gulf oysters that have been tested,” Dr. LuAnn White concluded.
For reference, after the Exxon Valdez “disaster,” a NOAA study found that “residents of village communities (near Prince William Sound) became upset when it was pointed out that samples of smoked fish from their villages contained carcinogenic hydrocarbon levels hundreds of times higher than any shellfish samples collected from oiled beaches.”
The proof of the abundance of Louisiana’s marine life is in the eating, but first comes the catching and spearing. So, let’s head to an offshore oil platform a few months after and a few miles away from the “Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History!” and take a peek.
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