There’s a very big, very distressing story from NPR this weekend about the discovery of “a substantial layer of oily sediment” in the Gulf “… stretching for dozens of miles in all directions.” And the oil has been found at seafloor depths ranging from 300 feet, all the way down to 4,000 feet.
The report focuses on work by Professor Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia on board Research Vessel Oceanus. Joye’s findings seem to indicate that the oil didn’t just disappear. (Shocking, I know.) In fact, it looks like BP’s oil and the Coast Guard-approved dispersants may have turned the Gulf’s seafloor into a giant oily sink.
The NPR piece is yet another report circulating through the mainstream media that completely debunks the “vast majority of oil is gone” narrative peddled by BP and NOAA. Of course, this story won’t get the same level of attention, but you have to wonder why Professor Joye and so many others are continuing to find that large amounts of oil still remain in the Gulf – yet BP and its government-agency partners stick to the “oil is gone” script. Of course, that strategy has worked for BP as it creates confusion and makes it harder to figure out what’s really going on, and we know it will take years before we see the full impacts.
One of the most disturbing parts of Professor Joye’s revelation is that the seafloor is an important feeding ground for fish and other marine life in the Gulf. According to David Hollander of the University of South Florida: “A lot of fish go down to the bottom and eat and then come back up.” This again raises the question of whether Gulf seafood is safe for human consumption. We’ve been calling for more and better testing – beyond the infamous “sniff test” – for months. We’ve also been questioning whether waters have been reopened too early to fishing.
Professor Joye says she now has a “pretty good idea” of where all the oil went. It created what she describes as a “slime highway,” as organisms that breakdown the oil secrete, well, mucus. That mucus, according to Joye, can pickup particles of oil on its way down to coating the seafloor between the runaway well and landfall. This finding supports earlier academic research from the University of South Florida, where scientists said they saw oil particles sprinkled on top of the mud. These new findings from Professor Joye, says NPR: “strongly suggest that it didn’t just drizzle oil – in some places it was a blizzard.”
You can listen to and/or or read the NPR story…it’s amazing either way: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129782098
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