Tuesday 17 January 2017

Scientists find 22-mile plume of oil from spill

Seth Borenstein in Washington

Published 20/08/2010 | 05:00

Scientists have discovered conclusive evidence of a deep underwater oil plume from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but say it is invisible.

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A team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts mapped a 22-mile-long mist of oil with special instruments that look for the chemical signature of oil.

The researchers said that the discovery was a concern because the plume is not degrading very fast. That means it could be a long-lasting threat for marine life. The work was published online yesterday in the journal 'Science'.

It also emerged in Washington yesterday that the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico is accusing BP of withholding critical evidence needed to investigate the cause of the worst offshore oil spill in US history.

The claims were made in a confidential internal document obtained by a news agency.

In a sternly worded letter to BP's lawyers, Transocean said the oil giant has in its sole possession information key to identifying the cause "of the tragic loss of 11 lives and the pollution in the Gulf of Mexico", and that the company's refusal to turn over the documents has hampered Transocean's investigation and hindered what it has been able to tell families of the deceased, and state and federal investigators.

"This is troubling, both in light of BP's frequently stated public commitment to openness and a fair investigation, and because it appears that BP is withholding evidence in an attempt to prevent any entity other than BP from investigating the cause of the April 20 incident and the resulting spill," the letter said. Copies of the letter were also sent to government agencies and lawmakers.

Warned

President Barack Obama sternly warned months ago that companies involved in the accident needed to work together and with the government on the investigation.

BP spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford confirmed that the company had reviewed the letter, but called its accusations misleading and misguided, particularly the charge that BP was withholding evidence.

"We have been at the forefront of cooperating with the investigations commissioned by the US government and others into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy," Ms Ashford said.

Transocean owned the rig that exploded. Eleven workers were killed and 206 million gallons (780 million litres) of oil was spilled. BP was operating the rig, and the British company also was the majority owner of the runaway well.

Irish Independent

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