BP Spill: Where is the Oil?

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The federal government just released that spill report I referred to earlier. The report confirms the government’s claim that only about a quarter of the oil spilled from the well—or roughly 51.5 million gallons—remains at or just below the surface in the Gulf. Another quarter of the oil was dispersed, either naturally or via the nearly two million gallons of chemical dispersant, into the depths of the sea.

This is good news, but this doesn’t mean the problem is solved. There’s still a lot of oil out there—about nine and a half Exxon Valdez spills in total. So, while other news outlets are reporting headlines like, “Nearly 3/4 of BP spill oil gone from Gulf,” it’s actually closer to half. And, most importantly, the impacts of dispersing so much of that oil throughout the water column are still not well understood.

Also, as several others have pointed out to me, the report doesn’t include much in the way of specifics on the supporting data used to reach these conclusions. I’m trying to get more background from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on that.

Here’s the graph included in the government report:

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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