Skip to comments.Scientists conclude spilled Macondo oil biodegrading quickly
Posted on 08/05/2010 1:52:22 PM PDT by thackney
Early observations and preliminary research results show most of the oil spilled from the Macondo well is biodegrading quickly, but more research and analysis is needed to determine long-term effects on marine life, a federal science report said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Department of the Interior released a report Aug. 4 outlining measurement methods and best estimates of what happened to the spilled oil. US Environmental Protection Agency scientists also were involved.
More than 25 government and independent scientists contributed to the calculation methods or the calculations. BP PLC, operator of the Macondo well, was not part of the team.
About 33% of the total oil released during the spill was captured or mitigated by burning, skimming, chemical dispersion, and direct recovery from the wellhead. An additional 25% evaporated or naturally dissolved, and 16% was dispersed naturally into microscopic droplets.
The residual amount, estimated at 26%, is either on or just below the waters surface as residue and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore, or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments, the report said.
Dispersed and residual oil remains in the system until it degrades through numerous natural processes, the report said, adding that early indications are that the oil is degrading quickly.
The calculations are based on an estimated 4.9 million bbl of oil released into the gulf. That estimate was released Aug. 2 by the government's Flow Rate Technical Group.
Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, said, "Less oil on the surface does not mean that there isn't oil still in the water column or that our beaches and marshes aren't still at risk. Knowing generally what happened to the oil helps us better understand areas of risk and likely impacts."
It is well known that the warm gulf contains natural bacteria capable of breaking down oil. Other favorable conditions in the gulf are its nutrient and oxygen levels. Scientists also noted that oil enter the gulf through natural seeps.
The oil budget calculations are based on direct measurements wherever possible and the best available scientific estimates where measurements were not possible, the science report said. The numbers for direct recovery and burns were measured directly and reported in daily operational reports.
The skimming numbers were also based on daily reported estimates. The rest of the numbers were based on previous scientific findings, best available information, and a broad range of scientific expertise. These estimates will continue to be refined, Lubchenco said.
Ahh oil true natural 100% biodegradable product
Thank You Mother Nature.
Crude oil is 100% natural and biodegradable. That’s what I’ve always said.
An oil spill is not a good thing, especially a real gusher like Macondo. But neither is it end of the world stuff.
Oil leaks naturally into the Gulf of Mexico from the ocean floor at a fairly generous rate and has since time immemorial. It leaks naturally into the Pacific along the California coast too, and yet the world survives and everyone pays premiums to live along those very beaches.
It would also seem the wilder claims as to flow rate were wrong, too.
All hail the all-powerful Obama!!!
Like that organic crap they label all the stuff at the grocery store?
Will these scientist say the same thing under a Republican majority house and administration?
Everything is alright, but ...
The oil has disappeared, but ...
There's not been one report since the cap that did not include, "but".
Bobby Jindral can figure in here if he has the honor to not take free money nor programs.
In fact the legacy oil fields in the Santa Barbara channel have significantly reduced the amount of oil seepage pollution on the beaches. Even so its been estimated that every four years the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill occurs on those beaches thru the seeps.
“Will these scientist say the same thing under a Republican majority house and administration?”
They’ll say that the processes involved will accelerate global warming/s;)
Do you think the dispersants helped? I'm no expert (and yet I never let that stop me from opining...) and I've wondered if the dispersants were making the situation worse, the dispersants were more toxic than the oil, the dispersants were making it harder for the ships to do their clean-up work... you know the drill. What is your opinion? Were the dispersants a net positive?
Indeed. I think when the scientific history of this spill is written, one of the major conclusions will be that the sub-sea addition of dispersants directly into the leak at the wellhead drastically reduced overall damage and time for recovery.
I believe the dispersants helped greatly and are less toxic than the oil they are breaking up.
The also breakdown themselves faster than the oil.
IIRC, the area of the spill is a deadzone created by fertilizer run-off from the Mississippi. (causing low O2 levels)
Wonder what effect that might haveon this whole process?
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