Oil is still in the Gulf
A few weeks ago, the US government said that almost three-quarters of the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been "cleaned up or broken down by natural forces". However a group of scientists have come forward and said that there is more oil still in the ocean than has been claimed, and that as much as 79 percent is present below the surface.
This assessment contradicts the Obama administration's claims that the worse of the oil spill is now over. However, the scientists, including Samantha Joye, a Professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia in Athens, have said in a public memo that a lot of crude is lurking deep below the surface, some of it settling perhaps in a critical undersea canyon off the Florida Panhandle.
The scientists' research claims to have found evidence of microscopic amounts of oil mixing into the soil of the canyon which has in turn been poisoning plant plankton, the vital base of the ocean food web. They say the toxicity has been caused by a lethal combination of oil and dispersant.
It is a stark contrast to the White House statement of August 4, which said that: "At least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system, and most of the remainder is degrading rapidly or is being removed from the beaches."
What is the truth?
However the scientists have faced a backlash saying their results are only based on a 10 day research trip and as such, any conclusions on the amount of remaining oil would require more tests. It has not stopped various government officials however, confirming that they feel the oil spill crisis is drawing to a close.
Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has been quoted as saying at least half of the oil released is now "completely gone." Meanwhile other scientists have been disputing the new evidence with Edward Overton, an environmental chemist and Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University saying, "I don't think it's still lurking out there."
"The Gulf is incredible in its resilience and ability to clean itself up," he said. "I think we are going to be flabbergasted by the little amount of damage that has been caused by this spill."
This group of scientists who released reports are not the only ones to contradict the government's stance on the oil clean up. Last week, a report from Georgia researchers that said as much as 80 percent of the oil from the spill remains in the Gulf. Both groups' findings have already been incorporated into lawsuits filed against BP.
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