Spin Cycle

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Citing health risks to oil spill cleanup workers in the Gulf, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force the disclosure of ingredients in chemicals used to disperse the oil.

Gillibrand’s June 4 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson drew a parallel between Gulf cleanup efforts and toxic exposure among Sept. 11 first responders. She said some Gulf workers had been treated for headaches, nausea and respiratory problems.

“While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made some information about the dispersants available to the public, BP and Nalco, the manufacturer of COREXIT dispersants, have maintained secrecy surrounding these chemicals, and their health effects, prohibiting public access to critical safety information,” the letter said. “Given the very serious health and environmental concerns associated with exposure to these chemicals, I believe it is essential that this information be made public without delay.”

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The EPA has sparred with BP about use of Corexit and expressed concern about the chemical’s long-term impact on marine life.

Earlier this week the Center for Biological Diversity, a San Francisco environmental advocacy group, said it planned to sue the EPA “for authorizing the use of toxic dispersants without ensuring that these chemicals would not harm endangered species and their habitats.”