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BP’s Deep Water Horizon Leaves Behind a 22mile Long Oil Plume

August 21, 2010 in Environmental News

Deep Water Horizon Oil spill has been officially not leaking since July 15th 2010. Now after a month scientists confirm the presence of a 22 mile long oil plume in the bottom of the ocean and the oil had been confirmed to have come from the Deep Water Horizon well.

The Associated Press reported “A 22-mile-long invisible mist of oil is meandering far below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, where it will probably loiter for months or more, scientists reported Thursday in the first conclusive evidence of an underwater plume from the BP spill.”

The Christian Science Monitor says the plume is 700 feet thick and 22 miles long. This was found by US and Australian scientists who were on a cruise to study the impact of Deep Water Horizon. Their findings represent the most detailed picture yet of undersea plumes of oil and methane from the Gulf oil spill. The researchers were surprised by the plume’s relative stability as well as by an apparent lack of activity on the part of microbes to break down the oil.

Experts believe the plume will take longer than 4 months to dissipate, government agencies have all but given BP a clean chit.

The oil is at depths of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, far below the environment of the most popular Gulf fish like red snapper, tuna and mackerel. But it is not harmless. These depths are where small fish and crustaceans live. And one of the biggest migrations on Earth involves small fish that go from deep water to more shallow areas, taking nutrients from the ocean depths up to the large fish and mammals.

“This is a highly sensitive ecosystem,” agreed Steve Murawski, chief fisheries scientist for the federal agency NOAA. “The animals down at 3,300 to 3,400 feet grow slowly.” The oil not only has toxic components but could cause genetic problems even at low concentrations, he said.

Read the entire AP article HERE

Latest Video from the NOAA and FWS:

What will be the effect of the oil spill and the resulting clean up?

Another thing that still worries me is the aftermath of using Corexit – the Toxic Dispersant. Earth Justice says more than 1.8million gallons of dispersants were used in the Gulf of Mexico! Dispersants were used in the Gulf in unprecedented ways and amounts, turning the Gulf into a massive experiment largely keeping the public in the dark as to the risks these dispersants pose.

After Exxon Valdez disaster Congress enacted a new law calling for advance study and approval of dispersants as part of oil spill response planning. No measures if any were taken while using Corexit and for quite sometime the ingredients  in Corexit was not even available. The secret ingredients were identified only after congressional demands, media outcry and a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Earthjustice.

The only studies submitted to EPA for Corexit were acute toxicity studies (which tell you what concentration of the chemical kills 50 percent of the test subjects) for one species of shrimp and one species of fish. EPA requires no other toxicity, environmental or health studies before it makes a dispersant eligible for use.

Corexit is banned in UK, Japan, Australia, Canada and China , but it is okie to use it in the US? Does it make any sense?

Read the Write up in its entirety on Earth Justice

Watch the video on Corexit use in the Gulf of Mexico :

It will quite sometime before we understand the real impact of the oil spill on the environment. Is there a long term hazard out there which we can’t envision? Only time will tell.¬† There is not much we can do in the Gulf other than keeping fingers crossed and hoping for the best. But we can make sure this does not repeat itself by reducing our dependence on Fossil fuels. Live Green!

Sources and more information can be found in the below links:

Christian Science Monitor

Oil Plumes writeup in CSM

NYTimes

Associated Press

On Bloomberg

BP Corexit Connection