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By DAN JOLING, Associated Press. Thursday, April 19, 2012

Three environmental groups are taking aim at how federal agencies approve dispersants to break up oil spills in marine waters.

The groups on Wednesday sued the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard, claiming the agencies have failed to make sure they know how chemicals in dispersants, and the reconstituted oil they target, affect endangered species.

“If chemical dispersants are going to be used after an oil spill, we have to know whether they’ll hurt or kill whales, sea turtles and other wildlife. So far, the EPA has no idea,” said Deirdre McDonnell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, in announcing the lawsuit filed in San Francisco. “Unprecedented amounts of dispersants were dumped into the sea during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and they’re likely still affecting the Gulf of Mexico, where dead dolphins continue to wash ashore.”

A dispersant approved for the Gulf of Mexico, she said by phone, may have a far different effect on a polar bear off the coast of Alaska.

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