WH adviser: Less-toxic dispersant for oil spill not readily available; BP told to use less

WASHINGTON (AP) — BP is complying with the government's request to use less of a toxic dispersant in fighting the Gulf oil spill, but alternative dispersants aren't so readily available, the White House's energy adviser said Tuesday.

In a letter to BP last week, the Environmental Protection Agency gave the oil giant three days to find a less toxic alternative to the dispersant, Corexit 9500, that it is using to break up the oil. But in a series of meetings that followed, White House energy adviser Carol Browner said, it became clear the alternatives were not as widely available as needed.

"There are not as many being manufactured as people thought in the quantities" needed, Browner said in a round of television appearances on morning news shows.

"We need to determine whether or not those alternatives are available, and the EPA is doing that, but in the meantime, EPA has directed BP to use less of the dispersants and they're required to follow that," Browner said.

The Obama administration has come under increasing pressure as frustrations build with the failure to cap the well. Millions of gallons of oil stretch across a 150-mile swath from Dauphin Island, Ala. to Grand Isle, La., endangering wildlife and the livelihood of generations fishermen.