Environmentalists Plan Legal Action Against Use of Oil Dispersants

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Environmentalists are planning legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard.  Rebecca Noblin, director of the Center for Biological Diversity office in Anchorage, says the two federal agencies have authorized the use of oil dispersants as a spill response tool, without studying how they will affect some wildlife species.  Attorneys for the environmental group are demanding that the federal agencies study the effects of dispersants on endangered wildlife and incorporate that information into oil spill response plans.

The Endangered Species Act requires agencies to assess the impact of oil spill cleanup methods on listed species.

Noblin says chemical dispersants designed to break apart oil release toxic products that can make dispersed oil more harmful to marine life than untreated oil. She says the short-term and long-term effects of dispersants on marine life have not been adequately tested.   She says the legal action is aimed at general response plans for the whole state.

Noblin says her group will file suit in 60 days if the EPA does not address the concerns outlined in a letter the Center sent to the federal agency Wednesday.

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