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BP oil spill left a 10 million gallon 'bathtub ring' of oil on Gulf of Mexico seafloor


Oil spill

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(NaturalNews) An explosion and fire on a BP oil rig off the coast of Louisiana killed 11 workers and sent nearly 200 million gallons of oil plunging into the ocean four years ago, causing lasting and unforeseen negative environmental effects.

While the true, immediate effects of the BP spill were mostly kept hush-hush by the oil industry, today, science continues to unveil the environmental impacts caused by the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Research presented on October 27 and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science said approximately 10 million gallons of oil has coagulated and settled on the bottom of the seafloor below the scene of the explosion, creating a kind of oily bathtub ring.

The "footprint" as scientists call it, is about twice the size of Houston, Texas, and approximately the size of Rhode Island, research confirms. While tests still need to be conducted in order to definitively place blame on BP, scientists say the footprint is so close to where the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded that there's almost no chance it could tied to other origins.

Future tests may not be able to performed due the oil's disintegration since the April 2010 blast.

Mystery: 200,000 million barrels of oil lost in the Gulf

An overwhelming 200,000 million barrels of oil entered into the Gulf; however, its current whereabouts are unknown. The oil industry claims to have cleaned most of it up, but a documentary film by Margaret Brown called The Great Invisible tells a different story, insisting that BP has only cleaned up less than one-third of the spill, according to a piece by The New York Times.

A scientist who led a study on the impacts of the BP spill announced last July that he believed the oil impacted the deep sea at wider ranges than previously thought, and expressed concern over how little is known about the spill's aftermath, reports Think Progress.

"What we still don't know, and what we need to all keep in mind, is that there's the potential for sub-acute impact," said Charles Fisher with Penn State University. "In other words, things that might have happened to corals' reproductive system -- slower acting cancers, changes in the fitness of the animal. These are very hard to detect and they'll take a long time for us to see whats going on."

BP insists that the oil "dissolved or evaporated" and therefore couldn't have caused the massive bathtub ring imprinted on the ocean floor. BP's senior vice president of communications, Geoff Morrell, even wrote an article titled "No, BP Didn't Ruin the Gulf," arguing that the ocean has "inherent resilience" for recovering from oil spills and environmentalist are simply overreacting.

BP continuing business as usual in the Gulf

Not only has Congress failed us miserably by not passing legislation that would regulate the petroleum industry to prevent future oil-related disasters, but BP has been allowed to carry on business as usual.

The oil giant recently bid $42 million to win 24 new leases in the Gulf of Mexico just days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifted a 2012 ban that suspended the company from pursuing new drilling rights.

Environmental watchdogs say the plausibility of another spill occurring is very "real" due to the defectiveness of the "blowout preventer," a device designed to stop blowout as it moves up the well.

"The risk of another blowout is real. Offshore wells have lost control several times in the [past] year," said Elizabeth Birnbaum, author of the NY Times op-ed "The Deepwater Horizon Threat."

Birnbaum says future spills can be prevented if the Department of Interior passed new regulation.

Sources:

http://thinkprogress.org

http://www.democracynow.org

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com

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