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Page added on August 17, 2010

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Scientists Say as Much as 79% of Oil Remains in Gulf of Mexico


A group of scientists says as much as 79 percent of BP Plc’s leaked oil remains in the Gulf of Mexico, challenging an Obama administration assessment that the crude is largely gone or rapidly disappearing.

Most of the oil that leaked from BP’s Macondo well from April 20 to July 15 is still beneath the water’s surface, scientists including Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia in Athens, concluded in a memo made public yesterday. The researchers say they drew upon the U.S. government’s study while reaching different conclusions.

The Obama administration’s Aug. 4 report indicated that almost three-fourths of the crude that leaked has disappeared or soon will be eaten by bacteria. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has said at least half of the oil released is now “completely gone.”

Chemist Dana Wetzel said that conclusion felt like the “closing credits of a movie.”

“It’s like they were saying ‘the end,’” Wetzel, program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, said in an interview last week. “I’d say we have just gotten through setting up the plot.”

Some scientists agree with the government that the oil has largely dissipated.

“I don’t think it’s still lurking out there,” Edward Overton, an environmental chemist and professor emeritus at Louisiana State University, said in an interview last week.

‘Incredible’ Resiliency

“The Gulf is incredible in its resiliency and ability to clean itself up,” he said. “I think we are going to be flabbergasted by the little amount of damage that has been caused by this spill.”

The leak began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig leased by London-based BP exploded off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers and oiling as much as 650 miles of coastline.

The scientists who said that as much as 79 percent of the oil is still in the Gulf of Mexico said their estimates don’t include oil known to have washed into coastal wetlands because such crude is too difficult to measure, according to the memo, dated Aug. 11 and written by one of the researchers, Chuck Hopkinson, a University of Georgia marine scientist.

Spokesmen at the White House and NOAA didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Chipman in Washington at

Original story with links

One Comment on "Scientists Say as Much as 79% of Oil Remains in Gulf of Mexico"

  1. KenZ300 on Tue, 17th Aug 2010 11:03 pm 

    Time to transition to biofuels.

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