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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Huge Underwater Oil Plumes Found in Gulf of Mexico

As you all know, at least 210,000 gallons of oil a day has gushed into the Gulf of Mexico since an oil rig exploded April 20 and sank two days later. Eleven people were killed in the blast.  It is a story I have been following and there are a number of updates today. 

BP Refuses To Let Scientists Study Leak On Ocean Floor: 'The Answer Is No To That'
First I wanted to show you two pictures.  The first was a projection of the path of the oil spill May 10.  The second is the projected path for May 19.  It is shocking to see how far and wide this has spread. 

A larger picture of the projected May 19 path.  Note how far down in the gulf the spill is now projected to go (looks to me to be as far south as Tampa Bay).

Some of the new information out (AP) :

(1)  Huge underwater plums of oil:
Scientists have found huge plumes of oil lurking under the surface of the water in the Gulf of Mexico, as BP hit a snag in its latest effort to slow down the oil blasting out of a broken undersea pipe.
Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology, meanwhile, say they have detected large oil plumes from just beneath the surface of the sea to more than 4,000 feet deep.
Three or four large plumes have been found, at least one that is 10 miles long and a mile wide, said Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia.
One Is As Large As 10 Miles Long, 3 Miles Wide And 300 Feet Thick In Spots.
(2)  Use of dispersants:
Federal regulators on Friday approved the underwater use of the chemicals, which act like a detergent to break the oil into small globules and allow it to disperse more quickly into the water or air before it comes ashore.
The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency angered state officials and fishermen, who complained that regulators ignored their concerns about the effects on the environment and fish.
"The EPA is conducting a giant experiment with our most productive fisheries by approving the use of these powerful chemicals on a massive, unprecedented scale," John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, said in a news release.
(3)  Environmental Impact:
"It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas," Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia, said. "We've never seen anything like this before. It's impossible to fathom the impact."

1 comment:

  1. Here's a link to an article about the "Elephant in the Ocean" - the floating island of plastic!

    The article tagline:
    Avid sailor and educator Mary Crowley is recruiting help to clean up the North Pacific Trash Gyre, a 'garbage patch' of plastic and other trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean."

    "We want to make this everyone's problem, and everyone's solution," Crowley tells the fishermen meeting in Rocklin.

    - We feel helpless watching oil gush into the Gulf. In the face of that, maybe this is a time to think twice before purchasing that 8 oz. plastic bottle of water we've all been conditioned to buy. More often than not, it's right by the check out counter in the health food store!