University scientists dispute government oil spill report

Photo of oil on a beach.

This is not the Gulf of Mexico but likely what some areas look like. CC by ZeNahla/Wikimedia Commons

A rosy outlook painted by a government oil spill report is being challenged. A conclusion by National Incident Command that most of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been burned, collected or vaporized has been cast into doubt by three scientific studies. Shrimpers were given the green light. The president and his family swam in the gulf and ate seafood last week. However, 75 percent of the oil has yet to be collected and will threaten the ecosystem for years, according to a University of Georgia (UGA) study. A massive oil plume was discovered on the sea floor by University of South Florida (USF) researchers. The oil spill is a long-term threat to human health and gulf seafood safety in a study released by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Government oil spill report said spill has been dispersed

Most of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 has been safely dispersed, according to government statements. National Incident Command, according to the Wall Street Journal, said a few weeks ago that burning and skimming had removed half of the 4.9 million gallons dumped into the gulf. Evaporation and dissolution handled another 25 percent. UGA scientists who have led the way in oil plume research since the spill began said up to 79 percent of the oil, as well as its toxic byproducts, are still in the water. It could be years, they concluded, before the petrochemicals break down. The scientists pointed out the obvious fact that 25 percent of the oil couldn’t have evaporated unless it was on the surface. Throughout the spill area, large oil plumes are trapped in the depths.

Undersea canyon harbors toxic oil plume

The USF team concluded that further east than previously thought, a large portion of the BP oil spill has settled to the bottom of the gulf. CNN reports the USF study discovered that dispersants apparently have sent droplets of oil to the depths, where it’s suspended in an undersea canyon about 40 miles offshore from the Florida panhandle. Organisms, such as plankton, at the bottom of the food chain are reacting strongly to the toxic chemicals in the oil. It’s possible the oil could return to the surface. A UGA researcher told CNN that a third of the hydrocarbons in the form of methane and other gas emissions that remain in the water weren’t measured by the government.

Gulf seafood safety faces long term threat

The AMA insists that gulf seafood safety will be affected for years by the BP oil spill. The Sacramento Bee reports that in the short term dangerous petrochemicals resembling cigarette smoke and soot will remain in the systems of gulf shellfish. Big game fish such as tuna, swordfish and mackerel will amass high concentrations of mercury in the long term from consuming fish lower in the food chain. The report said that over time pregnant women and children may be warned by their doctors to avoid gulf seafood.

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