Friday 9 December 2016

Report finds 74pc of Gulf oil spill now no threat to its wildlife

Steve Connor in Washington

Published 05/08/2010 | 05:00

THREE-QUARTERS of the oil that has leaked from the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico poses no further risk to wildlife, according to an investigation.

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The finding was released as BP announced that its latest effort to seal the leak seems to be working, and US President Barack Obama said the operation was "finally close to coming to an end".

The finding that only one quarter of the spill poses a threat comes from an investigation by the US Interior Department and the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"It was captured. It was skimmed. It was burned. It was contained. Mother Nature did her part," the White House energy adviser, Carol Browner, said yesterday.



Ecosystem

The federal report found that most of the oil from the leak has already evaporated, dispersed or been captured or otherwise eliminated from the ecosystem, and that much of the rest of the oil is so diluted that it poses little additional harm.

However, the disasters long-term effect on marine wildlife is less easy to determine because the warm temperatures of the Gulf mean that much of the oil would have evaporated or been broken down naturally by oil-degrading microbes.

The NOAA report calculates that 74pc of the oil from the well has been effectively dealt with by capture, burning, skimming, evaporation, dissolution and dispersion. Much of the dispersed and dissolved oil will break down naturally in the environment, although the rate at which that will occur has yet to be determined.

The remaining 26pc of the oil "is on or just below the surface as light sheen or weathered tar ball, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments", the report says.

There is no evidence of a huge, underwater slick that has yet to wash ashore, it says.

BP meanwhile claimed a significant milestone with its "static kill" technique of pumping heavy drilling mud into the well which, it said, has stabilised the pressure that was forcing oil to the seabed.( © Independent News Service)

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