BP oil spill compensation czar, Kenneth Feinberg, recently said that based on the research that he commissioned, the Gulf of Mexico would recover by 2012. However, research done by marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia is proving otherwise. In December, Joye went to areas that she had visited this past summer, expecting oil and residue from microbes to be gone, but it wasn’t. Other research is showing a more optimistic outlook on the situation, saying the microbes did a great job taking care of the oil.
"Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don't know," Joye explained at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. "There's a lot of it out there."
Joye and colleagues took 250 cores of the sea floor and travelled across 2,600 square miles in five different expeditions. She had been studying some of the areas before the oil spill on April 20 and said there was a noticeable change. Additionally it was determined through chemical fingerprinting that much of the oil did, in fact, come from the BP oil spill.
At the conference, Joye showed pictures of dead crabs, brittle stars, and other bottom-dwelling sea creatures that had been choked by the oil.
Joye’s research shows that the burnt oil left soot on the sea floor, which still had petroleum products, and more importantly, was the overwhelming amount of methane from the BP well that was ignored by many researchers. The amount of gas injected into the Gulf was the equivalent of between 1.5 and 3 million barrels of oil.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief, Jane Lubchenco, announced Saturday that a new program to restore the Gulf to its state before the spill has begun. This program, which is part of the oil spill litigation which requires polluters to pay for damages and restoration to the ecosystem, will eventually be funded by BP and other responsible parties.
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/28634332@N05