# News Oil spill area coming back to life

#### Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Exactly, the oil has been disappering from the water since then, the news is outdated.
So it is your conclusion that the report is meaningless? If so, please justify that assertion.

I didn't misinterpret the news report. It was all reported accurately in what I saw. This is older information BECAUSE it has been peer reviewed. I don't hear any of the scientists saying it is insignifcant. What they do say is that they don't know how significant this may be. So if anyone here does, I would like to know how.

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#### russ_watters

Mentor
Outdated is outdated, Ivan. It isn't meaningless, it is just outdated.

This thread is about what is happening now, not what was happening 2 months ago.

#### CRGreathouse

Homework Helper
Seriously, though, do reporters have to pass high school English class or is that an optional requirement?
It's always their lack of knowledge -- even very basic knowledge -- about statistics that gets me.

#### Ygggdrasil

Gold Member
Exactly, the oil has been disappering from the water since then, the news is outdated.
Perhaps you should read the actual paper in Science that the CNN article references (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/science.1195223.pdf[/URL]). In contrast to other reports, the authors of the [i]Science[/i] paper, which is the first peer-reviewed study of the oil spill to be published, do not see significant degradation of the oil around the plume they study. From the study:[quote]The lack of systematic oxygen drawdown within the plume suggests that the petroleum hydrocarbons did not fuel appreciable microbial respiration on the temporal scales of our study[/quote]

While this suggests that marine life may not be so likely to be threatened by hypoxic zones created by oil-degrading bacteria, it does suggests that the oil may stay in the gulf longer than anticipated. The paper also presents data on the composition of the oil stating that, while some of the lighter components of the oil have disapeared, many of the heavier, more toxic components of the oil (such as benzene and toluene) are enriched in the plumes.

Of course, this research has to be put in context with other observations of decreased oxygen levels in the gulf, indicating that the oil is being signficantly degraded by microorganisms in the gulf. For example, other teams using independent methods have reported significant decreases in dissolved oxygen levels (30-50%) indicating significant microbial activity. (see [url]http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100727/full/news.2010.378.html[/url])

In light of these conflicting data, it is clear that the story is more complicated than it seems. Clearly microorganisms are degrading the oil but the extent of which is unclear and it may be that different environments within the plumes support different amounts of microbial activity. Indeed, different researchers have different estimates of the amount of oil remaining in the gulf. Whereas the researchers with the US government have estimated that up to 75% of the oil has been degraded, other researchers at the University of Georgia say that as much as 80% of the oil remains in the gulf (see [PLAIN]http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/88/i34/8834notw8.html[/URL]). Others offer similar criticism of the government figures, for example:[quote]Cowan isn't persuaded by this accounting. "There's not enough information in there to make anybody with any kind of quantitative or ecological background believe it," he says. Jeffrey Short, an environmental chemist based in Juneau, Alaska, believes that estimates of oil collection, skimming and burning should be reliable because they are directly measurable. But with relatively few data to call on, estimates of how much oil has dissolved, dispersed or evaporated could be off by factors of two to three, says Short, who works with the conservation-advocacy group Oceana and helped lead the damage assessment of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill before he retired from NOAA. [/quote] ([url]http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100811/full/466802a.html[/URL]).

Because of these conflicting studies and the relative lack of data, I still contend that it is much too early to be able to accurately evaluate the environmental impact of the spill on the gulf.

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#### OmCheeto

Gold Member
We could do our own study, based simply on the numbers.

7.80E+05 = m^3 oil spilled into gulf(wiki)
2.50E+15 = m^3 of gulf of Mexico(wiki)
3,205,128,205 = by volume: parts water per parts oil
0.000312 = ppm oil to water
15 = legal limit in ppm in http://www.amsa.gov.au/marine_environment_protection/Educational_resources_and_information/Teachers/Classroom_Projects/Mathematics_and_Oil_Spills.asp" [Broken]
A discharge of 15ppm cannot be seen on the water therefore if you can see an oil spill it is an illegal discharge.
48,077 = magnitude below the Australian legal limit.(couldn't find ours. 15 ppm might be an international limit.)

Although this assumes the oil is dispersed evenly thought the gulf. Spreading it out on the surface yields:

1600000 = km^2 gulf area(wiki)
1000000 = m^2 per km^2
1.6E+12 = M^2 gulf
0.0000004875 = thickness of oil spread evenly over gulf in meters
which comes out to be
0.4875 micrometers

From the http://www.amsa.gov.au/marine_environment_protection/Educational_resources_and_information/Teachers/Classroom_Projects/TABLE.GIF" [Broken] from the above web site, an oil slick of that thickness will not be visible.

And then we have:
Florida marine scientists take lead in researching oil-spill disaster's effects in Gulf
August 20, 2010|By William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — A Florida research vessel last week discovered polluted plankton on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, an indication that toxic oil from the BP spill may be setting off a chain reaction of ecological damage.

This and other findings have prompted marine scientists to warn that determining the long-term damage to the Gulf and its marine life — and how to repair it — will require as much as 10 years of study at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
$200,000,000 = dollars Florida scientists hope to spend on studying oil spill(least number of hundreds of millions)$256.41 = dollars spent per cubic meter
264 = gallons per cubic meter
\$0.97 = dollars spent per gallon

Hmmm.... Seems a bit high. But at least it'll keep our scientists out of the soup line.

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#### Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Spreading it out evenly in the whole gulf? Seriously? Obviously the oil is much less dispersed than that. Mexico isn't seeing any oil wash up on their shores because there isn't any oil over there

#### OmCheeto

Gold Member
And now back to the topic.

I was down in New Orleans for a wedding a few years back and noticed that no one went near the river. I thought it was very peculiar, as it was the middle of June, and about 100'F outside. It seems the Mississippi is very polluted.

I just found the following article, which is somewhat related to the spill:

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/08/mississippi_river_pours_as_muc.html" [Broken]
Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune
Thursday, August 05, 2010

Every day during the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, contractors sprayed an average 140,000 pounds of Corexit dispersant onto oil slicks on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and into the oil being released a mile below.

But what few in the public understood was that an equivalent amount of similar surfactant chemicals -- the active ingredient in Corexit and in household soaps and industrial solvents -- enters the Gulf each day from the Mississippi River, with more flowing in from other rivers and streams along the coast.

.....

As the river suffers, so do the people. The Mississippi River provides 23% of the nation's public surface water supplies. Eighteen million people depend on the Mississippi and its tributaries for drinking water.

But it's not just the water we drink that is of concern. What we do to the rivers show up in other ways as well. One example is the area in Louisiana called "Cancer Alley". Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is said to have one of the highest incidence rates of cancer in the country. Residents also suffer from high numbers of respiratory problems, birth defects and immune system disorders.
Perhaps 40 years of dumping dispersant into the Gulf prepared it for this spill, or perhaps not.

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Mentor

#### nismaratwork

Is there some news related to the topic? Other than that old report about underwater plumes, it really seems as though anaerobic bacteria are doing their job on the oil. I'm a bit starved for news on the topic however, so if anyone has anything, pro or con so to speak, I'd love to read it.

#### mugaliens

Is there some news related to the topic? Other than that old report about underwater plumes, it really seems as though anaerobic bacteria are doing their job on the oil. I'm a bit starved for news on the topic however, so if anyone has anything, pro or con so to speak, I'd love to read it.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100907/ap_on_sc/us_sci_gulf_spill_where_s_the_oil" [Broken]. :)

I'm interested in hearing news about how much oil total was spilled vs the amounts that were contained, reclaimed, dispersed, evaporated, and eaten. The situation is a bit complex, as some of those are either required or desired stages for the others.

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#### nismaratwork

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100907/ap_on_sc/us_sci_gulf_spill_where_s_the_oil" [Broken]. :)

I'm interested in hearing news about how much oil total was spilled vs the amounts that were contained, reclaimed, dispersed, evaporated, and eaten. The situation is a bit complex, as some of those are either required or desired stages for the others.
Thanks, I'll read that and some related articles. You're right about the complexity of the situation... I wonder if as much as we'd like to make predictions, this is a wait-and-see situation by default?

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