Ahead of BP Spill Trial, Aerial Surveillance Reveals Fresh Oil Near Macondo Wellsite


As attorneys scramble to hammer out an eleventh-hour oil spill settlement in New Orleans, just 50 miles off the Louisiana coast fresh oil is surfacing above BP’s blownout Macondo Well. Flyover footage taken by On Wings of Care pilot Bonny Schumaker reveals “plenty” of fresh oil and surface sheen “over quite a large area” near the epicenter of BP’s 205-million-gallon disaster. With the BP spill trial set to start March 5 – after being delayed a week to let settlement talks run their course – the fresh oil serves as a grim reminder of the damage that continues to plague the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal residents, from fishermen to seafood processors to restaurant owners. It’s not over for those folks, not by a long shot.

Although a settlement between BP, the federal government and thousands of private plaintiffs may be imminent, it will not bring closure or an end to the nightmare that has gripped the Gulf Coast since April 2010. Just as we saw with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the devastation from the BP spill will linger for years to come. The best we can hope for is a fair settlement or a trial that results in a fair damages award.

Consider this from pilot Bonny Schumaker’s Feb. 29 flyover report (see link to full report and footage at at bottom):

We proceeded to the Macondo prospect (vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon disaster of nearly two years ago). Since we have not flown the Gulf since late December, and we have seen no reports from other pilots flying this far offshore, we had no idea where to look for oil. So we decided to return to some of the places where we have been seeing appreciable amounts of surface sheen consistently since last summer. That proved a good strategy, as we found oil and surface sheen almost immediately. And plenty of it.

Of course, the amount of surface oil is nothing like we saw in 2010 or even early 2011, but it is significant and it will inflict further damage on an already stressed Gulf ecosystem.

Photo credit to On Wings of Care

More from Ms. Schumaker’s flyover report:

…we do continue to see many lines of what looks like fresh oil, over quite a large area. Some of it is in the form of a very thin sheen, and some of it appears coagulated into thicker, twisting lines and sheets of sheen. They continue to be concentrated primarily in a large crescent-shaped area to the east and northeast of the site of the sunken Deepwater Horizon platform. (That site, by the way, remains quiescent and apparently unoiled on the surface.) This area of consistent surface oil sightings stretches at least 15-20 nm from south to north, is a few miles wide, and is roughly centered from 5-20 miles east and northeastward of the Deepwater Horizon site. In short, the surface is oil is still right where we’ve been photographing, videotaping, and describing it to you since last August.

That’s right, since August 2011 oil has been bubbling to the surface over the Macondo reservoir. And if it’s being released, as we believe, through cracks and fissures on the seafloor caused by BP’s heavy-handed efforts to seal the Macondo Well, theoretically the leak will continue until the reservoir runs dry. That could take an awfully long time and release an awfully large amount of oil. So the nightmare continues.

Please keep an eye out for a more comprehensive report on the Macondo leak from Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail. We will post it here so check back soon.

Read pilot Bonny Schumaker’s entire Feb. 29 flyover report at the On Wings of Care website: http://onwingsofcare.org/protection-a-preservation/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2010/gulf-2012/227-20120229-owoc-gulf-flight-taylor-macondo-fresh-oil.html

Read my post that broke the story on the ongoing Macondo leak here: https://www.stuarthsmith.com/oil-rising-again-from-macondo-well-bp-hires-fleet-of-40-shrimp-boats-to-lay-boom-around-old-deepwater-horizon-site

Read my post on how the oil was “BP fingerprinted” here: https://www.stuarthsmith.com/bp-busted-again-lsu-scientist-proves-fresh-oil-surfacing-at-deepwater-horizon-site-is-from-macondo-reservoir

Read about how long the Macondo reservoir has been leaking here: https://www.stuarthsmith.com/the-second-coming-of-macondo-how-long-has-oil-been-leaking-from-bps-deepwater-horizon-site-%e2%80%93-this-time

Read about where the fresh Macondo oil is coming ashore: https://www.stuarthsmith.com/is-bps-macondo-prospect-still-leaking-fresh-oil-is-coming-ashore-more-than-100-miles-away

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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