Demand Dispersant Testing on Dead Dolphins & Sea Turtles in the Gulf sign now

In response to the increasing death rate in the Gulf of Mexico occurring in both our Endangered Sea Turtles and Dolphins.

NOAA has declared an Unusual Mortality Event (UME)for both species as record numbers of Sea Turtles and Neonatal and New Born Dolphins carcasses are washing ashore daily! Whats causing these UMEs? Unfortunately, due to inadequate testing procedures and delayed response times from both NOAA & MFS we may never know - unless the demands of this Petition are successful! Approximately 2 Millions gallons of the acutely toxic neurotoxin pesticide Corexit was used in BPs oil spill cleanup efforts, yet NOAA is not testing for chemical compounds found specifically in Corexit 9500 & 9527A.

More than 190 dolphins and 300 Sea Turtles have died in the Gulf of Mexico since Jan 1st 2011. Of the 69 stranded Sea Turtles reported by NOAA in March 2011 only 29 were tested and 0 of them have been attributed to BPs oil spill. Also disturbing is the unprecedented number of dead carcasses being left to decay along the shorelines - Federally listed Endangered Species that you and I pay to protect are decomposing on the beaches without any testing whatsoever! Witnesses have seen their bodies completely decomposed, spray painted and others dumped into dumpsters. The penalty for killing an ES is $100,000 per offense so why is our govt being satisfied to turn a blind eye?

Recent Govt Actions Contradictive to the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) & UME Response Regulations:

The MMPA states: Solitary stranded animals are generally not refloated (i.e., released from the beach). It is assumed that a solitary animal stranded because it is unhealthy and if the animal is refloated, it is likely to strand again.*1

In contradiction to this regulation, Kim Amendola, spokeswoman for NOAA confirmed that two dolphins stranded in low tide on the Louisiana coastline were returned to water deep enough for them to swim away. "These animals had no signs of external oil and were deemed healthy and robust". Then the animals were pushed to deeper water by our stranding network partner, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. *2

The UME National Contingency Plan *3 details precsie instructions on who is authorized to obtain & anaylize tissue samples and "Because a declared UMME is an emergency situation, all results or research will be provided as soon as feasible". The plan further directs that the Onsite Coordinator will prepare a report for the UME containing results of analyses because they may contain valuable baseline information in determining what actions may be taken to conserve & protect the species involved in the current UME. It is also stated that outside requests for tissue samples will be considered.

In complete contradiction to these regulations the following is occurring according to IMMS: Under normal circumstances, IMMS sends tissues for analysis and can receive results within several months. IMMS is not allowed to analyze the tissues or to keep duplicate samples. The current NOAA investigation is ongoing and it may be some time before any results or a possible cause for the spike in dolphin calf deaths is revealed. *4

NOAA claims that samples have been submitted for analysis *5 however scientists and Stranding Network participants say otherwise. In an article from WLOX in MS Gulfport's Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS), led by Dr. Moby Solangi, has been taking tissue samples from the dead dolphins, and sending those off to the federal government. That's been going on for months. But now, its been learned that the feds have yet to send those samples off to be tested. we tried to ask federal officials, but got no answer. The only thing we know at this point is a letter, sent by NOAA to agencies gathering the samples, stated there is an ongoing criminal investigation. The dead dolphins are considered potential evidence in a lawsuit the federal government could file against BP. *6

Reuters also reported the U.S. government is keeping a tight lid on the lab findings due to the ongoing civil and criminal investigation involving BP. And that in a letter Reuters obtained in February, NOAA stated "Because of the seriousness of the legal case, no data or findings may be released, presented or discussed outside the (unusual mortality event) investigative team without prior approval,".*7

NOAA claims that more than 18,000 of these analyses have been validated *8 yet no report has been submitted for a Peer Review to date.

These actions directly contradict the regulations set forth in the UME National Contingency Plan and eliminate the ability to track tissue samples through the chain of custody and necropsy and ultimately find out who or what killed the animals. Additionally this makes the legal obligation of protecting & conserving the species impossible since the test results are not being released, thereby eliminating the opportunity to determine what environmental and critical habitat changes need to be made.

In the NRDAs Fish Kill Plan that was signed in December 2010 in response to BPs oil spill, representatives of NOAA, The State of Louisiana, and BP concurred that: Potential impacts of oil and dispersants on fish communities range from, but are not limited to, mortality to sublethal stress that may manifest itself in reduced fitness and decreased reproductive success.

Per Dr. Susan Shaw, a Marine Toxicologist, Corexit is particularly toxic. It contains petroleum solvents and a chemical that, when ingested, ruptures red blood cells and causes internal bleeding. *9

By NOAA & MFS not obtaining the required tissue samples from every dead animal washing ashore in the Gulf of Mexico and testing the samples for the chemical compounds of the dispersant Corexit 9500 & 9527A in addition to the hydrocarbons found in oil, they could potentially be saving BP Millions of $ in Fines & Penalties for the deaths of our Federally Protected Species.

THE DEMANDS OF THIS PETITION ARE SIMPLE & ARE IN ACCORDANCE TO FEDERAL LEGISLATION ALREADY IN PLACE:

1. We Demand immediate toxicological analyses of all Dolphin & Sea Turtle
tissue samples for exposure to the chemical compounds found in Corexit
9500 & 9527A.

2. We Demand that the UME National Contingency Plan be followed to the
letter of the law and be abided by the very agencies who wrote and
implemented federal regulations.

3. We Demand a more thorough & immediate response to reported strandings
of Dolphins & Sea Turtles

REFERENCES
*1 Marine Mammal Health & Stranding Response Program (Section 2.1.1) http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/health/eis_volume1.pdf

*2 WKRG Report http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/federal-practices-hamper-study-of-gulf-dolphin-deaths/1206250/Apr-16-2011_6-59-pm/

*3 Unusual Mortality Event National Contingency Plan http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/health/ummme_contingency.pdf

*4 IMMS http://www.imms.org/Stranding_FAQ.php#5

*5 NOAA FAQs on UME Investigation http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/mmume/cetacean_gulfofmexico_faq.htm#7

*6 WLOX Report on tissue testing http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?S=14279846

*7 Reuters Report http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/07/us-oilspill-dolphins-idUSTRE7367OP20110407

*8 NOAA admits more than 18,000 analyses have been validated http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/2011/04/gulf-scene-investigation-oil-analysis-video-documents-the-nrda-sampling-process/

*9 Dr. Susan Shaw http://www.meriresearch.org/Portals/0/Documents/Susan\%20Shaw\%20Statement\%20Re\%20EPA\%20Report\%20August\%2013.pdf

Scientific Report by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute & UC Santa Barbara http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/01/26/first.study.dispersants.gulf.spill.suggests.a.prolonged.deepwater.fate

WLOX Decomposed carcasses http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rkistner/in_the_gulf_a_sunday_stroll_yi.html

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Gene WadeBy:
People and OrganizationsIn:
Petition target:
Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior; Gary Locke, U.S Commerce Secretary and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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