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New Lab Results Raise Questions About Gulf Seafood's Safety

Related Articles and More Information: Visit OCA's Resource Center on Environment and Climate or our Food Safety Resource Center.

A Boston lab hired by the United Commercial Fishermen's Association to analyze coastal fishing waters says findings suggest the government's claim that Gulf of Mexico seafood is safe to eat may be premature.

The lab, Boston Chemical Data Corp., said it found dispersant in a sample taken near Biloxi, Miss., almost a month after BP said it had stopped using the toxic chemical to break up the record amounts of crude spewed by the Gulf oil spill. The leak was finally capped on July 15.

The lab posted its data today on the website of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network in a move that could fuel the debate over the status of the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.

Parts of the gulf have been reopened to fishing and shrimping after the federal government declared the waters safe.   

The lab's findings "again point to evidence that the 'all clear' is being sounded way too early," said Stuart Smith, attorney for both the fishermen's union and LEAN, which is suing BP on their behalf. "I do not believe a robust statistical sampling has occurred to prove that it's safe."

Water samples analyzed by Boston Chemical show oil and toxins in crab. But the key finding, according to Marco Kaltofen, the lab's president, is the presence of the Corexit dispersant used to break up the oil in coastal water near Horn Island, off Biloxi.

BP has said repeatedly the last day it used any dispersant was July 19. Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Alicia Johnson confirmed the agency believes that to be the case.

But Kaltofen said the time frame raises a question.


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