Oil Could Reach Atlantic This Fall; Oil-and-Dispersant “Experiment” Widens


New estimates predict that oil from the BP spill could reach the Atlantic Ocean this fall, although not in the sort of visible levels likely to draw much fire. But the real concern is that the oil and possibly dispersant will also enter the North Atlantic food chain, further expanding the scope of BP’s toxic “experiment.”

Did this announcement come from BP or NOAA or the Coast Guard? Of course it didn’t – it came from a U.S.-German team that studied how dye from the site made its way into the Atlantic. It appears to be the first research on the long-term migration of the oil and dispersant, and there’s a good story online by Liz Kalaugher, editor of environmentalresearchweb.org.

The website had this from researcher Mat Maltrud of Los Alamos National Laboratory: “It is likely that small amounts of either oil or an oil-water-dispersant mixture will, at some time in the six months or so following the spill, make its way into the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic… In order to detect this, it would be necessary to make multiple sensitive measurements below the surface, for example in the Florida Straits, since concentrations will be low and mitigation efforts have been concentrated at the surface of the ocean.”

It’s interesting research. They used what’s called a “high-resolution global-ocean model” program, releasing dye at four different depths – trying to mimic the effect of dispersants keeping the oil under water.

But note this: In all the two-month spill simulations, relatively dilute dye reached the Florida Straits, on the border of the Atlantic, between 30 and 150 days after the initial spill, the time difference is due to changes in the “loop current.”

And this: The [research] team found that, depending on the state of the ocean, as much as 75% or as little as 25% of the dye may leave the Gulf of Mexico and enter the North Atlantic after six months.

Check out the story here: http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/news/43681

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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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