Out of sight, out of mind? Much of BP’s spilled oil never made it to the surface.
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is raining on Uncle Sam and BP’s well-capping parade. Researchers at the institute say a 22-mile-long, 1.2-mile-wide oil plume deep under the Gulf’s surface is degrading much slower than the government’s more optimistic claims.
By the Woods Hole researchers’ calculations, the plume probably still exists today, but government officials said their more recent observations indicate the oil is quickly being degraded by microbes.
The Woods Hole researchers tracked a 1.2-mile-wide cloud of diluted oil and gas, more than 3,000 feet under the surface and starting about 3 miles from the wellhead. They reported in the journal Science that the plume was degrading very slowly in the cold, dark depths, worrying researchers that the pollutants could spell harm for marine life.