Out of Sight


Oil has been found in shrimp trawls pulled from the floor of the Mississippi Sound off the coast of Alabama. The discovery is in keeping with the reports of deep, massive underwater plumes that we’ve been hearing for weeks. The “plume phenomenon” has been caused, at least in part, by the more than 1.5 million gallons of toxic dispersant BP has been injecting deep below the surface directly at the runaway well site (which is NOT the way the dispersant is designed to be used). While most of the plumes are composed of microscopic oil droplets, scientists have found that the submerged oil off the Alabama coast is much thicker, and therefore, poses a greater risk to marine life, like oyster beds, seagrass meadows and shrimp.

Not surprisingly, there are a raft of very serious issues and challenges tied to the underwater plumes. How quickly the submerged oil will break down without the natural forces of sunlight and oxygen. How will the risks be assessed if the oil is can’t be seen. How the oil will be located deep underwater. How the oil will be cleaned up on the ocean floor if it can be located. In the cautionary words of Vernon Minton, head of the Alabama Marine Resources Division: “If we can’t see it, we can’t assess the risks it poses.”

Once again, the situation demands full transparency and full disclosure from BP relating to environmental testing.

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

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