Environmental organizations have sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in federal court in the District of Columbia asserting that a list of dispersants, bioremediation agents and other substances approved for use in the event of oil or chemical spills has not been properly promulgated. Alaska Cmty. Action on Toxics v. EPA, D.D.C., No. 1:12-cv-1299 8/6/12).

Plaintiffs assert that the Clean Water Act requires EPA not only to create the list of approved products, but to identify the waters in which each may be used and to establish quantities at which each may be safely used. Plaintiffs also allege that EPA has added numerous products to the list, but never identified the waters in which they may be used or established safe quantities for their use. The complaint asserts that, in connection with the recent Gulf of Mexico spill, one dispersant was applied using novel methods and in unprecedented volumes and further asserts that EPA eventually directed the responders to identify and put into use a different dispersant in light of uncertainties concerning the first dispersant’s safety.  

The complaint asks the court to (i) find EPA failed to perform nondiscretionary duties to identify waters and safe volumes for the chemicals it has placed on the list, (ii) vacate and set aside the product listings in the last six years, and (iii) direct EPA to prepare a product schedule that conforms to the plaintiffs’ view of the legal requirements.