New analysis of damage from the Gulf oil spill

Two recently published studies raised concerns that the damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is even greater than first thought. One study found that the oil spill analysis contamination was greater than reported and the second that the spill damaged sea floor life for miles.

Paul Sammarco of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium is the lead author of a study that analyzed water, sediment and seafood samples taken in 2010 during and after the oil spill in the Gulf. They found higher contamination levels in some cases than previous studies done by federal agencies. The study believes the use of dispersants to break up the oil might have affected some of the samples. It is also possible that a particular sampling method used in earlier studies might have led to lower readings.

The study, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, found that components of oil were distributed along the Gulf Coast as far west as Galveston, Texas and southeast to the Florida Keys. They also found higher levels of many oil related compounds than earlier studies by NOAA scientists and others, particularly in seawater and sediment.

Paul Montagna, a professor of ecosystems and modeling from Texas A&M, found that the oil spill damaged the tiny animals that live on the sea floor for about 57 square miles around the the blown out BP oil well, with severe damage in about nine square miles of that area.

The report, published in the online journal PLOS One, showed severe damage and pollution to animal life nearly two miles from the well and identifiable more than ten miles away. Montagna was quoted as saying that full recovery could take a generation or more.

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