Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dispersant and how does it work?

Dispersants are a relatively common product used to clean and control oil spills in the ocean; they are special fluid chemicals that bond to the oil molecules and separate them from water molecules – thus breaking up the oil. In other words, the process works like dishwashing soap that breaks apart oil and water in a kitchen sink. In the ocean, they break down oil into droplets that mix with seawater. The droplets are then digested by naturally occurring micro-organisms. Dispersants inhibit oil from forming a slick and make oil less likely to stick to animals, shoreline rocks and vegetation.

Are Corexit Environmental Solutions dispersants used internationally and domestically?

Yes, our dispersants are used in over 30 countries.

Are dispersants harmful to the environment?

Scientists and policymakers agree that the greatest threat to wildlife and vegetation is from oil in a spill. Dispersants used to break apart the oil are safe and effective, and have been listed by the EPA. In fact, their basic properties are similar to detergents and other household cleaning products. COREXIT™ technology contains six primary ingredients. Examples of everyday products with specific ingredients in common with COREXIT EC9500A include:

  • One ingredient is used as a wetting agent in dry gelatin, beverage mixtures, and fruit juice drinks.
  • A second ingredient is used in a brand-name dry skin cream and also in a body shampoo.
  • A third ingredient is found in a popular brand of baby bath liquid.
  • A fourth ingredient is found extensively in cosmetics and is also used as a surface-active agent and emulsifier for agents used in food contact.
  • A fifth ingredient is used by a major supplier of brand name household cleaning products for “soap scum” removal.
  • A sixth ingredient is used in hand creams and lotions, odorless paints and stain blockers.

What do we know about the biodegradation rate of chemically-dispersed oil?

Chemical dispersants are designed to form smaller droplets when mixed with oil. These smaller droplets are more readily available to be biodegraded by micro-organisms. EPA has published research on the biodegradation of dispersed oil which suggests that the dispersant speeds the biodegradation of oil. Based upon this research, the rate of biodegradation increases almost 50% in the presence of COREXIT EC9500A vs. oil without dispersant.

How do you know if a dispersant is working?

There is a visible effect. Oil creates a sheen or color on the surface of the water, and as the dispersant is applied – it is highly soluble in water – the oil is quickly dispersed as marine currents distribute the oil to very low concentrations.

How long does a dispersant take to work?

The success of a dispersant is affected by the timeliness of their use, the composition of the oil, how they are applied, as well as water and weather conditions and overall climate. With the right delivery mechanism and conditions, the process of dispersing oil in seawater is rapid and begins to occur within minutes.

Disclaimer: COREXIT is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s NCP Product Schedule. This listing does NOT mean that EPA approves, recommends, licenses, certifies, or authorizes the use of COREXIT on an oil discharge. This listing means only that data have been submitted to EPA as required by Subpart J of the National Contingency Plan, 40 CFR Section 300.915.

Questions or Comments?