Scientists have discovered that about 10 million gallons of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster have accumulated at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, reported LiveScience. The 2010 oil spill is considered to be the biggest environmental catastrophe in human history.
“BP has has created long-lasting and deadly environmental disaster,” commented Brian Barr, a partner with the Levin Papantonio law firm and a member of the plaintiffs steering committee for the BP lawsuit. “People are still having to deal with the aftermath of the spill.”
According to a study conducted by oceanographers with Florida State University, that high concentration of crude oil poses a highly dangerous threat to aquatic wildlife and ecosystems. Oddly, it wasn’t until recently that scientists and BP cleanup crews located the massive quantity of oil. Scientists say the damage is only just beginning.
“This is going to affect the Gulf for years to come,” said Jeff Chanton, lead researcher and chemical oceanography professor at FSU. “Fish will likely ingest contaminants because worms ingest the sediment, and fish eat the worms. It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web.”
The study consisted of scientists taking samples of sediment core from a 9,266 square mile area surrounding the oil spill site. By studying the carbon-14 content of sediment core samples, scientists were able to discover the oil’s location. Carbon-14 is found in ocean sediment, samples lacking carbon-14 pinpointed the oil’s location.
Scientists found that oil contamination covers about one-third of the more than 9,000 square mile area they studied. Scientists think the oil settled so deep because oil clumped at the gulf’s surface, creating enough density to cause the oil to sink to the bottom. Another possibility involves BP cleanup crews actually burning the surface oil, creating black carbon and ash that could have sunk.
Chanton is projecting this to be a “long-term problem.”
“There’s less oxygen down there, and so that will slow the decomposition rate of the oil,” he said. “It might be there for a long period of time, a little reservoir of contamination.”
BP will surely find some way to refute this scientific study. When recent studies showed that oil had contaminated coral reefs, BP spokesperson Geoff Morrell published an op-ed article defending the company. However, scientists proclaimed that BP’s actions were going to caused long-term damage.
“We would not expect deep-water corals to be impacted by a typical oil spill, but the sheer magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its release at depth make it very different from a tanker running around and spilling its contents,” said scientist Helen White. “Because of the unprecedented nature of the spill, we have learned its impacts are more far reaching than those arising from smaller spills that occur on the surface.”
Almost five years later, and we are still having to deal with the egregious actions of BP. They caused an accident, downplayed it, and told lie after lie about cleanup progress. They need to pay what they owe for the damages they caused.