Controversial Dispersants Helped Clear the Air During 2010 Deepwater Horizon Spill

Sep 4, 2017

Seven years ago at this time, the Gulf Coast was facing a different kind of crisis – the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The crippled well head spewed nearly ten thousand tons of oil and natural gas each day for three months. Fairly early in the crisis, officials made an unprecedented – and highly controversial – decision to inject chemical dispersants at the well head to break up the oil and gas and reduce the amount that made it to the surface and onto beaches and wildlife. Over the course of sixty seven days, more than 700,000 gallons of chemical dispersants were released.

Now, a new study finds that decision likely reduced the amount of toxic petroleum chemicals in the air and making working conditions for those tracking and cleaning up the spill significantly less dangerous.

Chris Reddy is a senior scientist in the Department of Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He was deeply involved in the response to the Gulf Oil Spill and he’s one of the authors of the study.