The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Oil slick in Gulf resembles chemical footprint of Deepwater, locals fear another major spill

Last updated: 07/31/2020 08:00 | 09/13/2011 06:23
Dexter Cooke

Though the mainstream media has left the story alone, reports of a new slick of oil spotted about 40 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, near British Petroleum’s Maconda well, have many concerned.

Though the theories are un-comfirmed by BP, many worry that the oil might be the result of yet another BP spill. Several samples collected by the Mobile Press-Register in late August bore the same chemical footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil, according to chemists with Louisiana State University. But BP executives have reported finding no leaks in the seal on the Deepwater Horizon well or the relief well, after a survey by a submersible robot.

Image has not been found. URL: concentrated oil burn in the Gulf of Mexico, conducted in May 2010 (Pic by Deepwater Horizon Response, via Flickr) 

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded — killing 11 oil workers and injuring 17 others. The resulting spill, which took almost three months to be capped, caused severe damage to the environment and economies of coastal communities in the five Gulf Coast states.

Progress Florida’s — a site initially set up after last year’s disaster — has been reporting extensively on the new oil.

Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo says the denials by BP are “eerily reminiscent of the early stages of the first BP oil gusher disaster.”

“The problem is that, if BP is our only source of factual information, then we’re in trouble,” says Ferrulo. “Because they have a history — not only with the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, but with other disasters — of not being honest to the general public.”

The oil was first spotted during an August flyover by the nonprofit group On Wings of Care. The group was conducting a survey of whale sharks — but instead turned up the enormous oil slick. In an Aug. 26 press release, BP maintained that there was “no release of oil from the Macondo well.” (Other rumors have circulated that BP has hired a fleet of 40 shrimping boats to skim oil from the area. BP has denied those rumors.)

Interestingly, the pilot who conducted the initial flyover notified both NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard, and was told that NOAA was currently sampling the oil for BP.

During On Wings of Care’s most recent flyover, which occurred on Sept. 10, the oil slick was still clearly visible and was spotted in the same general area as the initial flyover. But following its own recent flyover, the Coast Guard said it didn’t spot any oil.

“It’s been really strange and discomforting,” says Progress Florida’s Mark Ferrulo. “These [On Wings of Care] pilots were literally fling over a 10-mile long mile slick, and yet the Coast Guard said they couldn’t find it. Their video goes for nine minutes — without any repeats. And BP says it isn’t there, but there is a BP research ship in the vicinity.”

SkyTruth, a group that analyzes NOAA and NASA satellite imagery, has published its own reports alleging that there is indeed some sort of ongoing potential leak in the area.

“The only real conclusive, without-any-doubt thing could be some time of video imagery,” says Ferrulo. “Until we get that, the speculation will remain.”

In a related story, fresh tar balls have recently begun washing up on the shores of Alabama, following rough waters brought on by Tropical Storm Lee. Though BP has not yet said whether the tar balls are the result of a recent spill (or even last year’s spill), contractors for the company are removing them anyway.

Dexter Cooke | He is an orthopedic surgeon who insists that a physician's first priority should be patient care. He specializes in minimally invasive complete knee replacement surgery and laparoscopic procedures that reduce pain and recovery time. He graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with a medical degree and a postdoctoral fellowship in orthopedic medicine.


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