Accounting for BP Oil in Gulf, Scientific Uncertainty Abounds

“The oil is not gone and is not going away anytime soon.”

08-19-2010 // Aileo Weinmann
Oiled Coast

At a hearing before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment entitled “The BP Oil Spill: Accounting for the Spilled Oil and Ensuring the Safety of Seafood from the Gulf,” independent scientists say it is irresponsible to draw conclusions about the BP oil disaster’s full impacts with so many questions still unanswered. That will be a key point from who will be testifying.

National Wildlife Federation is working with Dr. Ian MacDonald and other scientists to highlight scientific evidence showing that subsurface, or so-called “dispersed” oil is far from gone.

Premature to Claim Oil is Gone

“The oil is not gone and is not going away anytime soon,” testified Dr. Ian MacDonald, professor of Oceanography at Florida State University. Judging from past spills in the Gulf, this pollution will remain potentially harmful for decades – I expect it will be detectable in the marine environment for the rest of my life. We need to watch some of the keystone species over the coming years.

“Even though it is unthinkable to imagine a Gulf of Mexico without her oystermen, shrimpers, beach-goers, boaters, and recreational fishermen,” said Dr. MacDonald, “this culture and way of life will not continue unless the Gulf is restored to health and placed on a path toward rejuvenation.”

Dr. MacDonald also called for a permanent endowment to restore, understand and sustain the Gulf in perpetuity.

Flashback to Understating the Impacts

"Here they go again,” said Dr. Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation senior scientist. “Similar to original statements that vastly underestimated the spill size, BP and the government are now rushing to understate the volume and impact of the vast amounts of oil still in the water.

“BP and the government would like you to believe that the oil spill is over,” said Dr. Inkley. “But the research and testimony of these independent scientists make it clear that large quantities of oil remain in the environment, and will continue to do so for years, if not decades.”

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