Environmental

Most BP oil lingering on Gulf floor, new research finds

Marine biologists have found that oil from BP’s blown-out Macondo oil well continues to linger on and near the Gulf floor, degrading at a much slower pace than BP-affiliated scientists have claimed. Speaking at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Saturday, University of Georgia marine scientist Dr. Samantha Joye described how vast areas of the Gulf and its marine ecosystems lay decimated under blankets of toxic oil from the BP oil spill that erupted last April.

Dr. Joye’s report is at odds with a report commissioned by Kenneth Feinberg, the oil compensation fund czar, which said, rather incredibly, that the Gulf of Mexico would be almost fully recovered from the oil spill disaster some time in 2012. Other BP- and government-funded scientists have said that microbes are eating away at the oil very rapidly and even assert that “most of the oil is gone.”

Not so, say Dr. Joye and her colleagues, who have conducted five different expeditions to areas of the Gulf affected by the BP oil spill, testing some 2,600 square miles – including some locations Joye studied before the oil spill occurred.

“There’s some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn’t seem to be degrading,” Dr. Joye told an audience at the conference in Washington. “Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don’t know,” Dr. Joye said, later adding: “there’s a lot of it out there.”

Pictures taken during submarine excursions to some of the oil-choked areas showed crabs, starfish, coral, tube worms, and other creatures smothered to death under thick blankets of oil. Highly toxic gases released from the well and noxious soot from the burning of oil on the surface have deepened the devastation yet have been ignored by BP-funded and government researchers. The effects of chemical oil dispersants, used by BP in a cavalier manner and in unprecedented quantities, are still largely unknown and widely feared in the scientific community.

“I’ve been to the bottom. I’ve seen what it looks like with my own eyes. It’s not going to be fine by 2012,” Dr. Joye told The Associated Press. “You see what the bottom looks like, you have a different opinion.”