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Government Policy Allows BP to Hide Chemical Safety Information From the EPA

BP doesn’t have to tell the EPA—or the public—what’s in its dispersants.

Why, you might ask, was BP able to pump the Gulf full of chemicals that have never been tested for their human and environmental safety?

The answer lies, in part, in the Toxic Substances Control Act, the 34-year-old law that governs the use of tens of thousands of hazardous chemicals. Under the act, companies don't have to prove that substances they release into the air or water are safe—or in most cases even reveal what's in their products.

Richard Denison, senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, says: "We have a chemical policy that essentially has required very little testing and very little evidence of safety for pretty much all chemicals on the market, and that covers dispersants."

For now, the EPA has finally begun testing Corexit for toxicity. But that, notes Gina Solomon, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, is "a little bit like closing the barn door after the horse is gone."

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