NOAA’s “Oil Is Gone” Campaign Continues Unabated at the Local Level


The government may have backed off its high-profile insistence that the “vast majority” of BP’s oil spill is gone, but at a grassroots level NOAA continues to sound the all-clear message.

A good example came recently at the Terrebonne Parish Council, where NOAA spokesman Gary Petare said the underwater oil plumes were basically gone and blamed any bad test results on “natural seeps” that are actually good for the environment.

The Tri-Parish Times newspaper reports that “…Petare said that NOAA began its direct investigation in August 2010 and that by Oct. 23, 2010, NOAA researchers had had taken a total of 39,000 samples that resulted in hundreds of thousands of data points and by the end of their study found no deposits of liquid MC252 oil in sediments beyond an unspecified area of Louisiana shoreline. Additionally, there were no benchmark levels of dispersants found.”

“The findings were such that less than 1 percent of the water samples and approximately 1 percent of the sediment samples exceeded EPA aquatic life benchmarks,” Petare said. Water samples that did exceed EPA limits, he claimed, were not from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

“There are about 3,000 natural seeps in oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico and they put out about 12 million gallons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf annually, which is part of the ecosystem. It is the nature of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, and in some ways it’s helpful because it [produced the same microbes] that attacked the oil in this spill … and actually benefited the environment,” Petare said.

In a bit of a mystery, the NOAA spokesman admitted “…that NOAA research crews were still present in Terrebonne Parish, then offered a presentation regarding the status of subsurface oil remaining from released oil in the Gulf of Mexico in federal waters off the Louisiana coast.”

Oddly, Mr. Petare refused to provide the Council with any local results, and also refused to identify the areas where NOAA admits there are problems. So the “vast majority gone” message lives on, just well away from the national spotlight where it was so quickly discredited.

Here’s the local story:

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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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