Where Did All the Oil Go? U.S. Press and Scientists Admit That BP Spill Is Vanishing Much Faster Than Expected

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He sparked
outrage in the US when he suggested that the Gulf of Mexico oil
spill was nothing but a drop in the ocean.

And he was
hounded out of his job for overseeing one of the world’s worst
oil disasters as pictures of dying seabirds floundering in oil dominated
the front pages of the US press for weeks on end.

But now, 16
days after the leak was finally stopped, scientists are coming forward
to suggest that perhaps BP boss Tony Hayward may have been right
after all.

Oil from the
well is clearing from the sea surface much faster than scientists

Indeed, some
are asking whether the original threat was actually exaggerated.

And just over
100 days after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the
Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, the water around the Gulf is
almost entirely clear.

The backtracking
by the US media in particular stands in stark contrast to the way
in which they pursued Mr Hayward in the wake of the spill.

Time Magazine,
The Washington Post, the New York Times and Vanity
Fair have all now raised the prospect that the much-maligned
ex-BP boss may have been right after all.

The disaster
led BP to a record £11bn loss, after it set aside £21billion
to pay for the clean-up of the Gulf, fines and legal liabilities.

And BP’s woes
have a direct knock-on affect on ordinary British people with most
having pensions which hold the oil giant, always a generous payer
of dividends, in their portfolio.

Officials estimate
that between 107 million gallons and 184 million gallons spewed
into the Gulf before the cap stopped the flow on the 15th July.

A graphic
from May 24th which shows the extent of the oil spill around a month
after the disaster

By July 26th
much of the oil has dispersed either naturally or has been skimmed
from the surface

The permanent
solution, using a relief well to fill it in with mud and cement,
is still several weeks away.

So far, officials
say they have recovered 34.6 million gallons of oily water using
skimmer boats and burned about 11.1 million gallons off the ocean’s

But the vast
majority of the oil still remains unaccounted for.

Marine scientist
Ivor van Heerden told Time magazine: ‘There’s just no data
to suggest this is an environmental disaster.

‘I have no
interest in making BP look good – I think they lied about the
size of the spill – but we’re not seeing catastrophic impacts.There’s
a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it.’

Jane Lubchenco,
the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
made the decision last week to reopen a third of the 80,000 square
miles of federal waters previously closed to fishermen as the threat
began to diminish.

She said government
and independent scientists have been working hard to figure out
where the oil might be, but have not yet worked it out.

Some is still
washing up on beaches and in coastal wetlands, but nothing like
in the quantities it was a few weeks ago.

the rest of the article

31, 2010

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