Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dispersants Create Huge Underwater Oil Plumes in Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. government gave BP permission to use dispersants on the sea floor on an ongoing basis. The company conducted three 24 hour tests prior to the government's approval to expand dispersant use. Dispersants cause oil to mix with water, reducing its buoyancy. Oil's toxic chemicals become suspended in water.

The Associated Press reported:

Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology said Saturday they had detected the underwater oil plumes at depths between just beneath the surface to more than 4,000 feet.

Three or four large plumes have been found, at least one that is 10 miles long and a mile wide, said Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia.

Researchers Vernon Asper and Arne Dierks said in Web posts that the plumes were "perhaps due to the deep injection of dispersants which BP has stated that they are conducting." BP has won government approval to use chemicals on the oil near where it is gushing to break it up before it rises to the surface.

The researchers were also testing the effects of large amounts of subsea oil on oxygen levels in the water. The oil can deplete oxygen in the water, harming plankton and other tiny creatures that serve as food for a wide variety of sea critters.

Oxygen levels in some areas have dropped 30 percent, and should continue to drop, Joye said.

"It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas," Joye said. "We've never seen anything like this before. It's impossible to fathom the impact."

That's why Congress needs to uncap economic damages. Get rid of the $75 million cap and don't limit liability at $10 billion. Red and Blue Congressional Corporacrats won't consider such a thing, but they should.

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