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Phys.org

Study: Dispersants did not help oil degrade in BP spill

November 9, 2015 by By Seth Borenstein
Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. Credit: Todd Dickey/University of Georgia

The chemical sprayed on the 2010 BP oil spill may not have helped crucial petroleum-munching microbes get rid of the slick, a new study suggests.

And that leads to more questions about where much of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill went. If the new results are true, up to half the oil can’t be accounted for, said the author of a new study on the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

After the 172 million gallon (650 million liter) spill, the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 was applied by airplane on the slick to help it go away and help natural microbes in the water eat the oil faster. The oil appeared to dissipate, but scientists and government officials didn’t really monitor the microbes and chemicals, said University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye.

So Joye and colleagues recreated the application in a lab, with the dispersant, BP oil and water from the gulf, and found that it didn’t help the microbes at all and even hurt one key oil-munching bug, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The dispersants did a great job in that they got the oil off the surface,” Joye said. “What you see is the dispersants didn’t ramp up biodegradation.”

In fact, she found the oil with no dispersant “degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants,” Joye said.

 

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Dispersants Did Not Help In BP Spill, Half Of Oil Not Accounted For: Study

bp_wave_001By Joe Wright

The fallout continues from the Deepwater Horizon explosion that directly killed 11 workers and ravaged the food chain and the environment more than 5 years ago.

Since then we have seen little accountability, despite a nominal fine against BP for its role in unleashing 4 million barrels of oil (approx. 200 million gallons). In fact, the EPA lifted a ban which subsequently resulted in BP being awarded $40 Billion in new contracts, essentially erasing all that was “lost” by BP from their criminality.

Running in tandem with BP’s negligence was the use of Corexit 9500 oil dispersant (owned by Nalco, a Goldman Sachs subsidiary) as a supposed means to drastically minimize the impact. Contrary to that assertion, evidence continues to mount that it did the exact opposite.

Early on, reports began to surface of health anomalies that many believed were attributable to the spraying of the chemical dispersant. Corexit was not only sprayed over the water, but over houses as well. One family documented how all of them became sickened, and afterward tested very high for chemical poisoning. A crew of activists called Project Gulf Impact were on the scene to expose what was taking place, and similarly reported sickness to their own crew, as well as suppression of their media coverage.

 

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