Story transcripts

Crude Solution

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reporter: Michael Usher
Producer: Jo Townsend

When petroleum giant BP spilled millions of litres of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago, it was the worst ever offshore oil disaster.

To try and break up that massive slick, vast quantities of chemical dispersant was sprayed on the spill.

It seemed to work: the oil disappeared.

But people started getting sick and then people started dying.

Now, this environmental disaster has become a health catastrophe.

The dispersant, when mixed with the oil, increases in toxicity by 52 times. This sickly, invisible toxin, still lurks in the water and absorbs straight into peoples' skin.

In this special 60 Minutes investigation, we reveal the same chemical dispersants have been sprayed on the Great Barrier Reef and off the north west coast of Australia.

They're still approved for use and our authorities are clueless as to how deadly they are.

WATCH the latest update of Crude Solution here.

PHOTOS: Take a look behind the scenes here.

Important information:

To read:

CoRexit (the manufacturer of NALCO) Seven Facts about CoRexit 9500, visit

BP's Fact Sheet on Dispersant, click here.

NOPSEMA'S Guidance note on Oil Spill Contingency Planning, visit

An AMSA spokesperson told 60 Minutes:
"AMSA has an ongoing program to dispose of obsolete stocks of oil spill dispersants. Since 2011, AMSA has disposed of 199, 520 litres of oil spill dispersant, including all its stocks of Corexit 9527, and in accordance with this program all of AMSA’s stocks of Corexit 9500A will be disposed of by the end of the year. AMSA engages chemical waste disposal companies who are required to certify that the disposal has been completed in accordance with environmental regulations and best practice.
AMSA can only comment on its stockpiles of dispersant."

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