Bob Higgins

In School Outreach, BP and NOAA “Dispel Myths” About Dispersants, Subsurface Oil

Posted in Environment, Marian Wang, News, Politics by Bob Higgins on October 4, 2010
Bookmark and Share


Snapper are filleted at Inland Seafood in New Orleans, La. According to reports, BP and the government are giving presentations at local schools showing that "oil floats" and Gulf seafood is safe. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)


[Pro Publica’s Marian Wang reports on the spin being provided to middle school students by BP and the NOAA regarding the safety of Gulf Seafood and the contamination of the Guf with 206 million gallons of crude oil and a million gallons of dispersants.  Truthout gives a slightly different picture in Evidence Refutes BP’s and Fed’s Deceptions Bob Higgins]

By Marian Wang,  ProPublica
Even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls for more research into the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants BP used in the Gulf, representatives of BP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have reached out to local schools to “dispel myths” about dispersants and subsurface oil, according to recent reports in the Houma Courier and the Tri-Parish Times. (We first noticed the Tri-Parish Times piece via TreeHugger.)

BP and NOAA appear to be doing demonstrations for local schools using a 10-gallon fish tank full of water, some cooking oil, and some dishwashing detergent to simulate the properties of oil and the effects of dispersants.

The Houma Courier quoted NOAA science support coordinator Gary Ott as telling the children, ” floats. See we’ve tested it.” (The oil-floats argument is also what then-BP CEO Tony Hayward said when first confronted with evidence of underwater oil plumes this summer.)

According to the two reports, Ott had the children try to use eyedroppers to suck up the oil, simulating the inefficiency of skimmers. He had them use paper towels to simulate absorbent booms.

And then he applied dishwashing detergent to the floating oil to break it down- simulating dispersants. Though he acknowledged the dispersed oil doesn’t disappear and could hurt some fish species, Ott told the children that the chemicals were broken down within weeks by microbes, the Courier reported. He also assured the children that Gulf seafood was safe to eat.

Scientists, as we’ve reported, have found thick layers of oily sediment on the Gulf sea floor. And more recently, researchers at Oregon State University found abnormally high levels of carcinogenic chemicals in water off the coast of Louisiana, Mother Jones noted.

We’ve asked both NOAA and BP for comment regarding the demonstrations. A BP spokeswoman told me she was working on putting together a response, but has not yet provided one. We’ve asked specifically what 201Cmyths201D about dispersants the company was trying to dispel.

In any case, here’s how the company explained the outreach to the Tri-Parish Times:

“The primary purpose [of the demonstration] is to inform and educate students on the methods used to clean up the oil in the Gulf and the wetlands and marshes,” Janella Newsome, BP media liaison said in a press release. “It’s also to dispel myths about dispersants, subsurface oil and seafood safety.” According to BP representatives, it won’t be the last demonstration. “This is the first session of many going on,” Charles Gaiennie, a BP representative said at Oaklawn’s library last week. “We are starting here in Terrebonne Parish with eighth grade because they are the first of school age kids that have a defined science class. We wanted to reach out to schools that are near communities that have been directly impacted by the oil spill, so Terrebonne was a good choice. There’s a lot of information that’s out there isn’t current or accurate.”

During one demonstration, reported the Tri-Parish Times, a BP representative asked the students questions about the oil spill. Students who answered correctly received a BP hat or pen as a prize.

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Kevin Schmidt said, on October 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Now the criminals at BP are filling our kids with their nonsense and propaganda. Kids who know the truth, of course, will get the questions wrong.

    I wonder if a kid who confronts BP’s lies with the truth will get suspended or tazed?

    And Obama still doesn’t know why progressives won’t support Blue Dog DINOs at the polls next month.

    Personally, I hope the GOP takes back the House and impeaches Obama. He won’t lose his job in the Senate, but he will be completely discredited and unable to run again in 2012.

    Then the door will be open for true progressives to run for president like Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean. At this point, either one of them could beat Billary.

  2. BobHiggins said, on October 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    And while you’re wallowing in the joy of progressive purity, republicans and corporate oligarchs will build a future of fascist slavary.

    This is not an election that we can afford to throw away, get off your ass and vote Democratic.

  3. Vic Anderson said, on October 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: