Calling on Bill and Melinda Gates to stop the manufacture of toxic oil spill dispersants

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During the 2010 BP oil disaster, the federal government allowed the use of over 2 million gallons of toxic chemical dispersants to “clean up” the oil. The quantity of dispersants used during the BP oil spill was unprecedented — and so were its consequences.  

While dispersants create the illusion of “clean” by pushing spilled oil beneath the water’s surface, in reality, a decade of scientific research has shown that the oil-dispersant droplets mix with water or air and create long-term harm from sea surface to seafloor––and to those that breathe the contaminated air such as people, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, pelicans, and more.

Time and time again, these chemicals have been associated with long-term illness, disease, cancer, and more in communities impacted by oil spills and dispersant use. Yet, our nation’s emergency response plan for oil spill response STILL ALLOWS the use of these chemicals and relies on 26-year old science to support their use. 

Bill and Melinda Gates are the largest individual shareholders of Ecolab, the parent company of Nalco — a major dispersant manufacturer. We are calling on the Gates to use their power as shareholders and public influencers to help us stop the manufacture of these deadly products and safely destroy existing stocks.

Add your name to join The Alert Project’s petition to protect our oceans, coastal seas, beaches, wildlife, and the people from these hazardous chemicals once and for all. 

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We are calling on Bill and Melinda Gates to help: 1) Stop the manufacture of toxic Corexit dispersants used in oil spill response; 2) Delist these toxic products so they may not be used in oil spill response in U.S. waters or territories, and 3) Develop and implement a plan to destroy existing stockpiles of these hazardous chemicals in the U.S. and its territories.  

Bill and Melinda Gates are the largest individual shareholder-owners of Ecolab, which acquired Nalco as a wholly-owned subsidiary in December 2011. (Shares are held through Cascade Investment LLC, controlled by Bill Gates, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.) Institutional investors hold majority ownership of Ecolab — among the highest in the Chemicals: Specialty Industry sector. The indirect subsidiary Nalco manufactures Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A, among other dispersants and products.

Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A are routinely used in coastal states and territories for oil spill response. These dispersant products are hazardous by nature, containing chemicals that can cause harm to red blood cells, kidney, liver, the respiratory system, skin, the central nervous system, and reproductive and developmental problems. Further, when dispersants combine with oil, as intended, the resulting product is even more toxic to people and wildlife than oil alone as was demonstrated by studies on first responders, the public, and ecosystem wildlife from bacteria to dolphins, after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Simply put, science has finally confirmed that these Corexit dispersants do more harm than good, and there are plenty of far less toxic products on the market for oil spill response.

We are appealing directly to Bill and Melissa Gates, as the largest individual owners (at 13.81%) of Ecolab — the parent company of Corexit manufacturer Nalco — to help us leverage institutional investors to stop the production of these toxic products; demand that government regulators stop listing or promoting the use of these toxic products; and negotiate and implement a plan with government and the oil industry to move existing stockpiles of these dispersants into upstream feedstock at U.S. refineries, essentially recycling them into less hazardous products. 

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