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Massive Undersea Oil Plumes Spell Trouble

Posted on May 16, 2010
AP / Charlie Riedel

Workers clean oil from a brown pelican in Louisiana on Saturday after the bird was plucked from gulf waters.

What’s 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick? The largest of a set of enormous oil plumes deep in the Gulf of Mexico that suggests that leakage from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than the government and BP originally thought.

Not only does oil in the water cake marine life with a toxic black goo, it literally suffocates the ecosystem as the oil depletes oxygen in the water. —JCL

The New York Times:

Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

Dr. Joye said the oxygen had already dropped 30 percent near some of the plumes in the month that the broken oil well had been flowing. “If you keep those kinds of rates up, you could draw the oxygen down to very low levels that are dangerous to animals in a couple of months,” she said Saturday. “That is alarming.”

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, May 17, 2010 at 12:57 am Link to this comment

Duping the populace seems to be the whole pattern of private capitalism.

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By Squeeky, May 16, 2010 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment

We Americans tend to have very short memories. All will be forgiven and forgotten as long as gas prices don’t go up!

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amunaor's avatar

By amunaor, May 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment

Barack Obama sends nuclear experts to tackle BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil leak:

Something about this smells like Dr. Strangelove overkill.

Here we have an Oil Vampire puncture wound, spewing out, not only, flammable black liquid, with intermittent belches of highly flammable propane, methane; but add to this volatile cocktail the oxygen molecule within seawater, and the mindless overlords of science wishing to nuke the gurgling fountain beneath the waves.

What are these mindless brutes they attempting to achieve here; relocate the gulf coast somewhere up near Wisconsin?

Peace, Best Wishes and Hope

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By antispin, May 16, 2010 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

Can they really have enough dispersant on hand to have any effect other than to add more deadly pollutants?

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By samosamo, May 16, 2010 at 10:11 am Link to this comment


Now I understand why bp wants so bad to use the chemical
dispersants, especially since it could somehow keep the major
portion of the spilt oil deep in the water where ‘out of sight out
of mind’ really helps to dupe the unsuspecting public of what is
really turning into as worse a nightmare than would be
imagined.  On top of that the rate of loss of oxygen really
portends that the major damage is not yet calculable but bp
sure has the permission of a stupefied government willingly to
allow bp to use a chemical that no one knows what it will do to
the environment.

The only good thing I see is that this is happening in an election
year and it will pay wisely to listen to every candidate on his/her
view of this disaster and whether it favors the oil companies or
whether there will have to be a huge accountability and
rethinking of ‘unfettered’ corporate manipulations. Time is short
for some places as their ‘super tuesday’ primaries are scheduled
for this tuesday. Kind of like a disaster capitalism in reverse with
a ongoing environmental disaster to open people’s eyes to what
a person who they may vote for will be like in office.

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