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Gulf oil spill: Scientists confirm deepwater plumes

Underwaterfla keys
Scientists with the University of South Florida say laboratory tests have confirmed that oil spewing from the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico has accumulated in at least two extensive plumes deep underwater. The researchers said in Baton Rouge, La., on Friday that their tests confirmed initial findings based on field instruments.

The lab tests are the most conclusive evidence yet in a vigorous scientific debate about where much of the oil is ending up. The researchers say the extensive layers of oil are sitting far beneath the surface miles from the site of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. The university is collecting data for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Government scientists, including NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco, had been reluctant to blame underwater plumes on the catastrophic well blowout that has been spewing oil into the gulf since April 20. Tony Hayward, chief executive of oil giant BP, which leased the rig, last week cast doubts on the scientific reports, saying the company had found no evidence of large underwater plumes.

For an explanation on how underwater oil can damage deep-sea life, read Times staff writers Bettina Boxall's and Alana Semuel's report here.

-- Margot Roosevelt

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

PHOTO: An undated image shows a shallow-water coral  reef  and a gray angelfish swimming amongst soft corals  in the Florida Keys. Despite BP siphoning some of the oil  spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, worries escalated as the ooze reached a major ocean current that could carry it through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast. (AP Photo/NOAA)

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I designed the "MORGAN CAP" 5/15/2010 and have spent most of my time since then trying to get someone's attention to discuss the design. My design is a simple solution to stopping the oil flow in the Gulf and addresses every problem that's been made public and that I can determine by the videos. It even addresses the problem of ice crystals forming that stopped BP in their oil capture process before. The “MORGAN CAP” captures the oil while the flow is being stopped. I was able to design it in only a day but I’ve spent countless hours since on the internet and phone trying to get an audience to present it. The “MORGAN CAP” is a complete departure from anything BP has tried and would cost a fraction of what BP has spent on any of their ideas. I was a Chief Draftsman for over 20 years and at this stage my design is in freehand sketches . That is what is done by the Chief Draftsman and then the sketches are given to a Draftsman to complete the formal drawings. I have a scale model of the Morgan Cap. Please help me get in touch with someone to explain how it works.
I was just wondering, has everyone given up on stopping the flow?
Jerry Morgan

"Tony Hayward, chief executive of oil giant BP, which leased the rig, last week cast doubts on the scientific reports, saying the company had found no evidence of large underwater plumes." AP

Are you kidding me?


And, these plumes will sterilize vast stretches of ocean as they MOVE... even when the chemical plumes are gone (whenever that might be?)... DEAD ZONES of sterilized ocean will exact a similar toll as thet MOVE... nothing can live in sterile ocean for very long, and ecosystems are thus devastated for years.

We have a POTUS who is all powerful and backed by a super-majority Congress who will stand with him on whatever he wants and DO whatever he wants, legal or not!

Therefore I have 2 questions.

-WHY didn't he put in the necessary steps to "regulate" the oil industry and prevent this accident as he is now blaming the BUSH administration for not doing? Obama has had ONE YEAR and 3 months since taking office to do this!! (maybe he should spend a little less time on the golf course)

-WHY are he and the EPA allowing BP to use "sinking agents" (aka, dispersants) when their own Federal Emergency planning govt document PROHIBITS the use of those chemicals?!!! Go read it for yourselves!

Can someone explain to me how oil does anything except float. Anybody who's had a 4'th grade science class has seen first hand that oil and water don't stay mixed for more then a few minutes and after that the oil floats to the surface.

The LATimes really thinks readers need an "explanation on how underwater oil [plumes] can damage deep-sea life."??? Common sense 101: underwater oil plumes are man-made and do not belong underwater. Yes, LATimes your readers are educated.

BP need to be put in receivership. ALL their assets ... including experts employed by them ... should then be turned over to the Coast Guard and Navy and they should be in charge of capping the well. National Guard forces should be in charge of protection and cleanup of the land.

BP has lied and obfuscated from the beginning ... in fact, since before the beginning. Let them leave their toys ... but get their executives and their board members out of the pool.


Dispersants: An Out-of-Sight, Out-of-Mind Strategy

Pursuant to NCP Section 300.310, “As appropriate, actions shall be taken to recover the oil or mitigate its effects. Of the numerous chemical or physical methods that may be used, the chosen methods shall be the most consistent with protecting public health and welfare and the environment. Sinking agents shall not be used.” Sinking agents means those additives applied to oil discharges to sink floating pollutants below the water surface. The question is whether BP’s dispersants are “sinking agents” when they are applied a mile underwater at the source of the well leak.

Invisible Threat
On May 28, 2010, Reuters reported that the toxic dispersants applied underwater by BP may work their way up the food chain.

David Hollander, a University of South Florida oceanographer, headed a research team that discovered a six-mile (10-km) wide “oil cloud” while on a government-funded expedition aboard the Weatherbird II, a vessel operated by the university’s College of Marine Science. “We were collecting samples down to two miles (3 km) below the surface,” Hollander told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

Hollander said the contaminants – which could eventually be pushed onto the continental shelf before shifting slowly down towards the Florida Keys and possibly out to the open Atlantic Ocean – raised troubling questions about whether they would “cascade up the food web.” The threat is that they will poison plankton and fish larvae before making their way into animals higher up the food chain, Hollander said.

The underwater contaminants are particularly “insidious” because they are invisible, Hollander said, adding that they were suspended in what looked like normal seawater. “It may be due to the application of the dispersants that a portion of the petroleum has extracted itself away from the crude and is now incorporated into the waters with solvents and detergents,” he added. He said dispersants, a cocktail of organic solvents and detergents, had never been used at the depth of BP’s well before, and no one really knows how they interact physically and chemically under pressure with oil, water and gases.

Roughly 850,000 gallons (3.2 million litres) of dispersant had been used by BP to combat the Gulf oil spill as of May 27, 2010, including 150,000 gallons (570,000 litres) released below sea level.



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