Oil from BP spill found 40 nautical miles away: official

June 8, 2010
A dead fish coated in heavy oil floats near shore on June 4, near East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana. Scientists have confirmed the spread of oil from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill more than 40 nautical miles from the disaster site and at a depth of 3,300 feet, a top US official said Tuesday.

Scientists have confirmed the spread of oil from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill more than 40 nautical miles from the disaster site and at a depth of 3,300 feet, a top US official said Tuesday.

The scientific analysis by the appeared to confirm fears that massive "plumes" of oil are suspended in the Gulf waters, greatly complicating any hope of cleaning up the spill.

NOAA's research offers proof that vast quantities of oil have spread not just along the ocean's surface, but at a great depth underwater.

"NOAA is confirming the presence of very low concentrations of subsurface oil at sampling depths ranging from the surface to 3,300 feet at locations 40 to 42 nautical miles northeast of the well site," agency head Jane Lubchenco, told a news conference.

Scientists have said that in addition to being nearly impossible to clean up, the oil plumes could deplete oxygen in the Gulf, decimating its abundant sea life.

Meanwhile, the top US official overseeing the spill cleanup and effort said Tuesday that he has instructed the US Geological Survey take a new look at the ruptured pipeline and to give him a new estimate of how much oil may actually be pouring out of it, especially after the riser pipe was trimmed last week.

BP trimmed the riser so that it could be outfitted with a so-called lower marine riser package (LMRP) to collect and transport oil and gas flowing from the well.

But some experts expressed concern that the maneuver could actually have the effect of increasing the amount of crude spewing from the ruptured pipe.

Allen said he has asked the USGS to confirm whether this is the case.

"They are going to go back and refine the assumptions on the original flow rate, and then give us their best estimate on the impact of the cut of the riser pipe," Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said at Tuesday's briefing.

Meanwhile, Lubchenco at the same press conference said scientists have completed a process of "fingerprinting" the oil to confirm that it did in fact, come from the BP spill.

"The test results confirm that there is oil subsurface. We've always suspected that, but it's good to have confirmation," the NOAA chief said.

She said scientists working with NOAA are trying to assemble "a three-dimensional puzzle, so that we can have a better sense of what's where, in what amounts, and what impact it's having," Lubchenco said.

The analysis, which she said is being carried out by NOAA in concert with experts at the University of South Florida, rules out that the oil could have come from any source other than the BP spill.

"We've been tracking where the oil is going at the surface and where it is going below the surface," Lubchenco said, calling the BP oil spill is "a human tragedy and an environmental disaster."

She added however that some oil found 142 miles southeast of the well site had been found in tests to be "not consistent" with the BP oil, explaining some oil was naturally occurring in the Gulf.

Lubchenco said the work to determine just how far the BP is spreading is ongoing, and that other ships have been sent out in the Gulf to take new water samples.

"Those are in the lab being analyzed now," she said. "We will report on those as soon as we can."

Millions of gallons of crude have poured in the since the April 20 explosion on the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig, lying just off the Louisiana coast.

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2 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2010
Would it help if BP paid for some giant 'bubbler' lines to be laid on the sea bed in these areas and have ships pump air into the water that way? (just like in an aquarium). And why is the oil not floating? Is is because it gets 'infused' with water?
5 / 5 (3) Jun 08, 2010
@VOR From what I've read the dispersants are creating microscopic bubbles with a specific gravity that is very similar to water. This combined with the way the water in the GOM is stratified according to salinity/temp the oil gets stuck at the between zones and will not rise, or rises very slowly. And air bubbles are not the same as dissolved O2, unfortunately.

I also wanted to add that NOAA denied the existence of the plumes at first, then they make the statement "We've always suspected that [there are plumes], but it's good to have confirmation." I should also note that BP denied the existence of plumes too, but that is to be expected as they try to downplay the impact and play CYA. Not sure what game NOAA was playing though.
5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2010
it's reassuring to see that physorg is taking up the fight to counter BP lies with information generated by scientists.

i thought you all might have been shying away when seemingly no news was posted on this site for at least a week.
5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2010
"...very low concentrations." What kind of BP PR bullshit rhetoric is that? Yo, NOAA, who pays your salary, us taxpayers or Tony Hayward?

We want parts per million, baby. We want the leak rate of this monumental gusher. Where's a real estimate of the leak rate? Where's the real source of the leak?

MMS is full of Big Oil cronies; looks like NOAA's got some clean-up to do, too.
3 / 5 (4) Jun 08, 2010
It's pretty apparent that BP's strategy has been an all-out effort to downplay the extent of this catastrophe, running a PR campaign, and restricting access to the site in order to prevent discovery of the actual volume of crude gushing into the gulf.

There were, at minimum, three pipes spewing oil, and BP released video after being compelled to do so by the gov, and even then, it was questionable which pipes were being shown.

At least three university-lead surveys were conducted(U Florida, U Georgia, U alabama{?}), all of which reported massive subsurface plumes.

The use of dispersants(read- EMULSIFIERS), which BP says are to disperse the crude into smaller droplets, more readily acted upon microbially, also(surprise!) actually dilutes the oil in the surrounding ocean, therefore making it much less easily quantified volumetrically.

It's notable that volume estimates(made by independent scientists) are as high as 60,000 barrels/day, way higher than BP has claimed.
3 / 5 (4) Jun 08, 2010
So, pretty much anything that BP can do to cast doubt upon the extent of the spill will have the effect of reducing ultimate liability. They will be fined on a per barrel basis, so if they can manage to somehow "disappear" a few million barrels of oil by "dispersing" it to the point where it cannot be well-quantified, that is that much more of the catastrophe that goes uncompensated for.

It's dirty tricks, to be sure, and look for BP's claims to be at wide variance to the claims arising from independent analysis, in every particular.

IMO, our government should have the entire site encircled with 24/7 video monitoring and sampling equipment to get real, quantifiable evidence for the spill's extent. Wonder why that hasn't happened. I guess because they know that BP can be relied upon to be truthful, diligent, and forthright about how bad this "spill" actually is, and to happily pay their share of the liability, being a good corporate citizen, and all.
1 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2010
5 / 5 (1) Jun 08, 2010

Eh? Can you provide a link that /doesn't/ require a Clearwire account?
1 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2010


Sorry, y'all- copy/pasted from wrong bar.
Jun 08, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 08, 2010
Well, hopefully the Plague won't hit us until these oilgushes are stopped...

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