October 3, 2010

BP Oil Still Present In Ocean 300 Miles From Spill Site

According to new analysis, oil from a ruptured BP well in the Gulf of Mexico has been found at a depth of 3,200 feet and up to 300 miles form the spill site.

Scientists aboard Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise sampled areas affected by the oil spill for 10 days.

"From the measurements we've taken, we see clear signs of oxygen deficiency on a large transect starting at the Macondo wellhead, all the way 300 miles to the west," Rainer Amon, a Texas A&M scientist who participated in the research, told AFP News.

"How much of oil and gas components are still in the water is something that we need to now investigate in the laboratory."

The expedition had four points plotted to the west of the well to investigate what is thought to be the main path of oil after the April 20 devastation.

They said that the dissolved oxygen level was not as low as scientists expected if a greater proportion of oil and gas dissolved in the water.

This suggests that oil has not "disappeared" like some have said, but that as much as three to four million barrels of crude is still unaccounted for.

"Despite everything that BP and the government would like us to think, the truth is, the oil spill's impact is not over," Greenpeace US research director Kert Davies told AFP.

"Scientists know better, fishermen know better, the people of the Gulf and certainly the clean up crews endlessly picking up tar balls know better. The government and BP need to be honest with everyone about the extent of the damage."

The researchers conducted a parallel study of sealift, as well as took samples of sediment on the ocean floor at a depth of 4,200 feet and five miles from the disaster.

Greenpeace said that some of the samples contained visible amounts of oil with a strong smell.

The samples were sent to an independent laboratory for study in order to determine the presence of the chemical dispersants.

Other scientists will join up with the Greenpeace expedition in October.  This expedition used a submersible to dive to the ocean floor to study the effects of oil disaster in coral reef habitats and marine communities.

"What we want to do is to come up with a mass balance of how much oil was put in the water column, the sediment surface," Amon told AFP.

"When we've analyzed all the samples we've collected for our work and that of our colleagues, we hope to come up with a pretty good estimate of how much of the oil and gas was put into the system. Hopefully we can then come up with good ideas of where that missing oil and gas has gone."

About 205 million gallons of crude spilled into the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20.


Image Caption: A large oil slick floats atop the surface of the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico about one mile south of Perdido Key, Saturday, June 12, 2010. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tasha Tully.


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