Well, it seems we’ve got yet another national outrage on our hands as USA Today reports that: “Scientists who were aboard two research vessels studying the Gulf of Mexico oil spill’s impact on sea life have found substantial amounts of oil on the seafloor, contradicting statements by federal officials that the oil had largely disappeared.” Frankly, I find myself marveling that this is even news anymore when nearly every NOAA report or announcement (the letters stand for No Oil Around Anywhere) is immediately proven false. Anybody else see a pattern here?
This time, according to USA Today, the direct contradiction comes as “… the research ship Cape Hatteras found oil in samples dug up from the seafloor in a 140-mile radius around the site of the Macondo well.” The chief scientist on the research expedition was Kevin Yeager, a University of Southern Mississippi assistant professor of marine sciences. Oil found in samples ranged from light degraded oil to thick raw crude, Yeager told the newspaper.
“Clearly, there appears to be vast volumes of oil present on the seafloor,” Yeager said in the story. “We saw considerable evidence of it.”
The government, of course, continues its increasingly pathetic denial campaign. Just last week, the NOAA-based Coast Guard science adviser Steve Lehmann told the Times-Picayune that the agency has found no oil on the bottom of the Gulf. They were supposed to be looking in the same area.
The USA Today story may also provide new fuel for the ongoing debate (in some circles, anyway) whether NOAA is corrupt, incompetent or some worst-case mixture of the two.
Samantha Joye, the University of Georgia marine sciences professor and one of the first to find oil on the seafloor amidst the government denials, explained that “… part of the discrepancy between federal and academic scientists may come from how NOAA scientists lower the multi-ton machinery used to collect the samples, known as a ‘multiple corer,’ into the sea.”
Apparently lowering the sampling device too fast could disrupt the fine sediment on the seafloor and disperse oil particles. “These are really fine layers,” Joye tells USA Today. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not going to find oil.”
Right. But if you do know what you’re doing – and are determined not to find any oil – then maybe you drop the thing like an anchor?
Read the USA Today story by Rick Jervis here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-10-25-oilresearch25_ST_N.htm
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