Friday, August 6, 2010
BP announced yesterday that it has injected cement into the runaway Macondo oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, 108 days after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20. Estimates of the total crude gushing into the ocean from the disaster vary from 207 million gallons to twice that amount.
A federal report released Wednesday showed that 25 percent of the oil was removed by burning, skimming and direct recovery. Another 25 percent evaporated naturally, and 24 percent "was dispersed (either naturally or as a result of operations) as microscopic droplets into Gulf waters. The residual amount--just over one quarter (26%) -- is either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments."
Environmentalists and officials on the coast met the report with skepticism, reports The Times-Picayune in New Orleans:
Paul Sammarco, a marine ecology professor with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, noted that even if the federal report is correct more than 50 million gallons of oil remain in the Gulf, nearly five times the amount of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, the largest previous spill in U.S. history.
"It's a little early to bet our last dollar on the oil being gone altogether," he said. "The oil might not be easy to see, but there's still a lot of it out there."