Government oil spill report disputed by three different studies
A government oil spill report says 75 percent of the crude is gone from the gulf, but three studies warn of toxic plumes and seafood safety. Photo credit: CC by johnnyd2/Flickr

An optimistic government report about the aftermath of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 is being disputed. Three reports cast serious doubt on the conclusion by National Incident Command that nearly three quarters of the oil had been collected, burned or evaporated. Shrimping waters were re-opened. President Obama ate shellfish and swam in the gulf last week with his family. But a University of Georgia (UGA) study estimates that three quarters of the oil hasn’t been recovered and remains a long-term threat to the ecosystem. University of South Florida researchers said a huge toxic oil plume has settled to the bottom. A study published by the American Medical Association reports that the oil spill is a long-term threat to human health and gulf seafood safety.

Government oil spill report said most oil is safely dispersed

Government statements said much of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 had been safely dispersed. The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal National Incident Command said earlier this month that half of the 4.9 million gallons of oil spilled had been burned off or skimmed. Another 25 percent had evaporated or dissolved. UGA researchers at the forefront of investigating underwater oil plumes created by the oil spill said as much as 79 percent of the oil and its toxic byproducts still remain below the surface. They concluded it might be years before the petrochemicals disappear. The group said it was impossible for dissolved oil to evaporate because only oil at the surface can evaporate. Large plumes of oil are trapped in deep water.

Toxic oil plume lurks in undersea canyon

A large portion of the BP oil spill has settled to the bottom of the gulf further east than previously suspected, according to the USF team. CNN reports that initial findings from USF conclude that dispersants may have sent droplets of crude to the ocean floor, where it hovers near the bottom of an undersea canyon within 40 miles of the Florida Panhandle. Plankton and other organisms at the base of the food chain showed a “strong toxic response” to the crude. The oil could resurface later. The CNN article quoted a UGA researcher who said the government did not document a third of the hydrocarbons because it did not measure methane and other gas emissions still in water.

Gulf seafood safety affected for years

The BP oil spill will affect gulf seafood safety for years according to the AMA. The Sacramento Bee reports that in the short term, gulf shellfish have difficulty clearing their systems of dangerous petrochemicals similar to those found in cigarette smoke and soot. Longer term, mercury consumed by fish lower in the food chain will concentrate in big game fish such as tuna, swordfish and mackerel. As time goes on, the report said doctors may be warning pregnant women and children to strictly limit the amount of gulf seafood they eat.


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Sacramento Bee:

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