BP oil not degrading on Gulf floor, study says

Sep 20, 2011 By JAY REEVES , Associated Press

(AP) -- Tar balls washed onto Gulf of Mexico beaches by Tropical Storm Lee earlier this month show that oil left over from last year's BP spill isn't breaking down as quickly as some scientists thought it would, university researchers said Tuesday.

Auburn University experts who studied tar samples at the request of coastal leaders said the latest wave of gooey orbs and chunks appeared relatively fresh, smelled strongly and were hardly changed chemically from the weathered that collected on Gulf beaches during the spill.

The study concluded that mats of oil - not weathered tar, which is harder and contains fewer hydrocarbons - are still submerged on the seabed and could pose a long-term risk to .

BP didn't immediately comment on the study, but the company added cleanup crews and extended their hours after large patches of tar balls polluted the white sand at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach starting around Sept. 6. Tar balls also washed ashore in Pensacola, Fla., which is to the east and was farther from the storm's path.

Marine scientist George Crozier said the findings make sense because submerged oil degrades slowly due to the relatively low amount of oxygen in the Gulf's sandy bottom.

"It weathered to some extent after it moved from southern Louisiana to Alabama ... but not much has happened to it since then," said Crozier, longtime director of the state sea laboratory at Dauphin Island.

Crozier said remnants of the spill are "economically toxic" for tourism, but he doubts there is much of an . The oil lingering on the seabed is of a consistency and somewhere between crude oil and tar, he said.

The company refused a request by the city of Gulf Shores to expand the latest to include heavy machinery.

Auburn analyzed tar balls dredged up by Lee at the request of the city of Orange Beach with outside funding from the city, the National Science Foundation and the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium. The study wasn't reviewed by outside scientists before its release.

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Cave_Man
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2011
"isn't breaking down as quickly as some scientists thought it would"

You mean like the "scientists" on the BP payroll?
Caliban
5 / 5 (1) Sep 20, 2011
and little to no mention of the plume recently discovered near the Macondo well, "chemically identical" to the oil releadsed last year, and feared to originate as an upwelling through possibly fractured cap strata overlying the deposit, that could quite possibly have resulted from torsion/shock of oil surge in the bore or casing and the stress of the rig collapsing or a related scenario following BP's failure to kill the well quickly. Think of pushing a garden hose into the soil as a rough analogy. The story, I fear, is not over.
The Probing Company
not rated yet Sep 21, 2011
This should not be really be a surprise to anyone should it.