Gulf disaster has the potential to reach our shores
Published 21/06/2010 | 05:00
REMNANTS of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could be headed this way, according to an American computer-modelling study.
The study, by the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, found that the Gulf Stream could carry oil from the Louisiana coast far into the eastern Atlantic ocean.
Based on computer animation, the study shows how the oil could be carried in the upper 65 feet of the ocean, taking into account weather and currents.
The model, using a dye tracer injected at the spill site, revealed the spill would become entrenched in the Gulf of Mexico's fast-moving "Loop Current", which would bring it into the Gulf Stream.
This current can travel at speeds of up to 100 miles per day and eventually sweeps past Ireland.
If the oil spill is contained by the end of August, the environmental impact on Ireland will be negligible, said NCAR oceanographer Synte Peacock.
But if the rig continues to pump oil into the ocean at the current rate no one knows for sure what the impact will be, she said.