Nelson: Regulate Oil Spill Dispersants

Sen. Bill Nelson in Tampa
Sen. Bill Nelson, right, with USF oceanography professor Bob Weisberg
TAMPA (2010-08-02) -

Florida's senior U.S. Senator filed a bill today that would regulate how much - if any - chemical dispersants could be used in future oil spills. No one's sure of the effect of these chemicals on marine line.

Bill Nelson is introducing a bill in the U.S. Senate that would set strict guidelines on the use of dispersants in any future oil spill. His "Safe Dispersant Act" would regulate which - and how much - of the chemicals could be used.

"EPA is allowing the oil industry and the dispersant industry to do their own safety checks," says Nelson. "This is like the fox guarding the henhouse, and this has got to change.

The use of dispersants has come under criticism for allowing the spilled oil to settle throughout the water column, instead of allowing it to float to the surface, where it could be collected. But proponents of the practice say more oil might have washed up on the Gulf's beaches and marshes if dispersants were not used. The University of South Florida's Research Vessel Weatherbird II will launch again next week to search for the suspended oil columns.

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