Lingering Effects of Gulf Oil Spill


"Study finds 70%–79% of oil spilled in Gulf 'has not been recovered.'"

Two reports published Tuesday express concern about the lingering effects of oil spilled from the ruptured BP well into the Gulf of Mexico.

A team from Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia released a report that estimates that 70%–79% of the oil that gushed from the well "has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem," the university said in a release.

Meanwhile, University of South Florida researchers have concluded that oil from the Gulf spill may have settled at the bottom of the ocean—at levels toxic to marine life.

Initial findings from a new survey of the Gulf conclude that dispersants may have sent droplets of crude to the ocean floor, where it has turned up at the bottom of an undersea canyon within 40 miles off the Florida Panhandle.

Plankton and other organisms at the base of the food chain showed a "strong toxic response" to the crude. The dispersant is moving the oil down out of the surface and into the deeper waters, where it can affect phytoplankton and other marine life," said John Paul, a University of South Florida marine microbiologist.

The University of Georgia study "strongly contradicts" a two-week-old government report that only 26% of the oil spilled from the well remains in the Gulf. "That is just absolutely incorrect," said Marine Sciences Professor Charles Hopkinson.

The study said the government's numbers were skewed for several reasons.

First, because 800,000 barrels of oil were collected from the well before it could spill into the Gulf, the Georgia researchers said a total of 4.1M barrels spilled into the water. But other factors mean more of that oil remains in the water. . .And that oil is a lot harder to see than the huge clumps that dotted the Gulf's face weeks ago.

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