BP Oil Spill

Friday, 03 September 2010 14:26 Written by  Essence McDowell

Eighty-five days after the initial explosion abroad the Deepwater Horizon, BP capped what it has named the Maconda well that had been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.


A study conducted by the federal government reveals that an estimated 4.9 million barrels, or 205.8 million gallons, spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the BP oil spill.

Although BP was able to cap the oil from spilling into the gulf, there has been wide debate as to how much damage the largest accidental oil spill in history will pose to the environment.

According to the latest reports released by the BP Company, as part of its long-term monitoring and research program in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is deploying a new technology that will enable nearly constant monitoring of the gulf.

The company’s containment stats show that 827,046 barrels of oily liquid has been skimmed and 265,450 barrels of oil are now controlled surface burns.

BP has also announced a $500-million commitment over a 10-year period to create a broad independent research program to be known as the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI). The GRI will investigate the impacts of the oil, dispersed oil and dispersant on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and affected coastal states.

While the company claims to be putting forth its most stringent efforts, there have been multiple scientific claims that provide conflicting views of the aftermath of the oil spill.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimate that 74 percent of the oil has been captured, burned evaporated at the surface, consumed by micro-organism, dissolved or dispersed into microscopic droplets under the water.

On the contrary, researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) believe as much as 73 percent of the dissolved or dispersed oil is still present underwater in the gulf.

“The idea that 75 percent of the oil is gone and not a threat to the environment is just absolutely incorrect,” says Charles Hopkinson, director of the Georgia Sea Grant at UGA, in an interview with CNN reporters.

The University of South Florida marine scientists conducting experiments in an area where they previously found clouds of oil have now discovered what appears to be oil in the sediment of a vital underwater canyon and evidence that the oil has become toxic to critical marine organisms.

In August, the United States Environmental Protection Agency collected surface water samples along the Gulf Coast. The samples did not reveal elevated levels of chemicals usually found in oil.

During his most recent visit to the gulf, President Obama vowed to maintain the government’s focus on removing any oil that might surface; testing fisheries and reopening waters for fishing as soon as tests show they are safe; leaning on BP to quickly process claims; and developing long-term restoration plan for the gulf.

Even with collaborative efforts of government agencies, researchers and environmental organizations, the BP oil spill’s impact on aquatic life remains unclear.

Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell

Essence McDowell is a freelance writer for GlossMagazineOnline and recent graduate of the Masters in Journalism program at DePaul University.

She can be contacted at created2write@gmail.com