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EPA Response to BP Spill in the Gulf of Mexico


In response to the BP oil spill, EPA monitored air, water, sediment, and waste generated by the cleanup operations. Ongoing response and restoration efforts are posted to RestoreTheGulf.gov.

While emergency response data collection has ended, results continue to be available on this site. Any new data will continue to be posted to this site, and data will continue to be available here for the foreseeable future.

Much of the content of this site continues to be available for historical and information purposes, but we are no longer updating these pages on a regular basis.

On this page: More information on dispersant use in the Gulf:

Directives and Addenda; Related Letters

EPA's Dispersant Monitoring and Assessment Directive for Subsurface Dispersant Application

This directive requires BP to implement a monitoring and assessment plan for subsurface and surface applications of dispersants as part of the BP oil spill response. Addendum 1 also requires BP to include a more thorough oil analysis which will allow EPA to determine whether the plume is toxic to aquatic life. Addendum 2 requires BP to identify and use a less toxic and more effective dispersant from the list of EPA authorized dispersants.

Letters Related to the Dispersant Directive

See BP's letters for exemption from dispersant directives on RestoreTheGulf.gov

Letters Related to EPA and DHS Urging BP to Increase Transparency

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Press Releases, Statements, Conference Call Transcripts

General Statement on Dispersant Use in BP Oil Spill

EPA publicizes all dispersants that have been authorized for use on the National Contingency Plan (NCP) Product Schedule, which is a list of authorized dispersants and other chemicals that may be used to respond to oil discharges. As the Federal On-Scene Coordinator for this spill response, the Coast Guard is responsible for approving the use of the specific dispersant used from the NCP Product Schedule. Coast Guard issues approval for the use of specific dispersant in consultation with the Regional Response Team, which consists of federal agencies, including EPA, and the states within the region.

The EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard have authorized BP to use dispersants underwater, at the source of the Deepwater Horizon leak. Subsea dispersant application has been in use since May 15, 2010. While BP pursues the use of subsurface dispersants, the federal government reviews its effectiveness and impact on the environment daily; EPA specifically monitors the water and air for dispersant and its potential impacts through a rigorous monitoring program. Below is EPA's directive to BP, including the monitoring plan that the company must adhere to in order to ensure the protection of the environment. The Federal Government reserves the right to discontinue the use of this dispersant method if negative impacts on the environment outweigh the benefits, and the Coast Guard’s Federal On-Scene Coordinator has the authority to make daily decisions regarding any request by BP to adjust the use of dispersant.

August 2: EPA Releases Second Phase of Toxicity Testing Data for Eight Oil Dispersants
June 30: EPA Releases First Round Of Toxicity Testing Data for Eight Oil Dispersants
May 27: UNH, NOAA, EPA and Coast Guard Convene Science Meeting to Study Dispersant Use and Ecosystem Impacts of Dispersed Oil in the Gulf (PDF) (2pp, 65K)

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Dispersant-Related Data

EPA Data

BP Data

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Questions and Answers on Dispersants

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