Demand That EPA and DOI Stop Use of Toxic Dispersants for Oil Spills

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This petition is to pressure the federal government to ban chemical dispersants used on oil spills. Science has shown that dispersants are deadly for wildlife and humans, and yet these chemicals are still authorized for use in the United States in large quantities. No community is safe from their use. Please sign and share with others!

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.  These chemicals have been associated with long-term illnesses, cancer and ecological destruction. Yet, our nation’s emergency response plan for oil spill response still allows the use of these chemicals in “unlimited” quantities. 

We want the EPA and the DOI to stop allowing the use of the dispersants Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A for oil spill response in all waters of the U.S.  Science has finally confirmed that these Corexit dispersants are deadly for people and wildlife when released into the environment. A decade of scientific research has shown that — while dispersants create the illusion of “clean” by pushing spilled oil beneath the water’s surface ––  in reality, oil-dispersant droplets mix with water or air and create long-term harm from the sea surface to seafloor. Oil “chemically-enhanced” with Corexit dispersants has been specifically linked with chemical illnesses in Gulf coast communities throughout the region impacted by the 2010 BP oil disaster. 

Further, we want the EPA and DOI to each take measures to prevent a repeat of the still ongoing human health tragedy that followed in the wake of the 2010 BP oil disaster. The government has already replenished its stockpiles of these Corexit dispersants for use in future oil spills! Dispersant use is authorized under an outdated 26-year-old national oil spill response plan that does not recognize all the harm to people and wildlife. New rules governing dispersant use have been proposed but not finalized. The outdated status quo allows the oil industry to profit and pollute at public expense.


We are calling on the EPA to: 

1) Delist toxic Corexit dispersants so they may not be used in oil spill response in U.S. waters or territories;

2) Develop and implement a plan to destroy existing government-owned stockpiles of these dispersants into upstream feedstock at U.S. refineries, essentially recycling them into less hazardous products. 

3) Treat oil spills that are contaminated with dispersants, or other products containing human health hazards, using a hazardous substance protocol under the National Contingency Plan — at least until dispersant use policy is updated based on current science and policy. By treating dispersants for what they are, hazardous substances, the EPA would be required to do public notifications in real-time, evacuation as necessary, environmental monitoring, full 40-hour HAZWOPER training and use of Personal Protective Equipment for workers, public health protection, and hazardous industrial waste disposal, among others. Hazardous substance responses are more likely to protect people and wildlife. 

In conjunction, we are calling on the Department of Interior (DOI) to:

4) Revoke its Notice to Lessees and Operators of federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (Nov. 2010) that mandates the use of Subsea Dispersant Injection (SSDI) in government-approved oil spill response plans for oil and gas leasing and development.

5) Issue a moratorium on Subsea Dispersant Injection by lessees and operators of federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf at least until the 2015 rulemaking on rules governing dispersant use is finalized in its entirety, based on current science and technology.


This petition was created by ALERT, a project of Earth Island Institute. In January 2020, ALERT initiated a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its 26-year-old rules governing dispersant use. Learn more on our website: