Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.
I have learned from EPA (see EPA's statement at the end of this post) that, in my last post, I misinterpreted a key part of the May 26 Directive that EPA and the Coast Guard issued to BP calling for reductions in overall dispersant use. Specifically, it stated "BP shall establish an overall goal of reducing dispersant application by 75% from the maximum daily amount" (emphasis added). My calculation indicating only a 9% reduction was based on the average rather than maximum daily amount applied prior to the Directive.
According to EPA, the Directive was issued in direct response to concern over BP's escalating use of dispersants in the days immediately prior: 45,000 gallons on May 22 and 70,000 gallons on May 23.
Using the maximum daily amount of 70,000 gallons as the baseline, BP's subsequent use of dispersant post-Directive averaging 22,600 gallons per day represents a 68% reduction, much closer to the 75% goal.
My apologies for the confusion and my misreading of the Directive.
EPA also indicates that the continuing surface application of dispersant by BP has been approved by the Coast Guard, as provided for in the Directive. I am seeking confirmation of that from the Coast Guard directly.
EPA statement added at 4:15 EDT today:
Statement from EPA Press Secretary Adora Andy:
When Administrator Jackson saw two straight days (May 22, 23) of skyrocketing dispersant volumes applied in the Gulf of Mexico she acted immediately to do something about it. On the evening of May 23 Administrator Jackson and Coast Guard Rear Admiral Landry sat down with BP and ordered them to ramp down dispersant use – with an overall goal of 75% from its peak usage of 70,000 gallons on May 23. The next day May 24, dispersant use dropped more than 50%. Since Administrator Jackson and Admiral Landry met with BP on May 23 to demand a reduction, dispersant use is down 68% from its peak. The Federal On-Scene Coordinator, in this case it's Coast Guard Admiral Watson, has the authority to grant waivers for the use of more dispersant based on changing conditions at sea.