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The ‘Fate of Oil’ In the Gulf

As expected, the White House released the details of an administration report that says “vast majority” of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the last several months has been “either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed.”

According to a White House statement detailing the “fate of oil” in the Gulf, the report, created by the Interior Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, finds:

A third (33 percent) of the total amount of oil released in the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill was captured or mitigated by the Unified Command recovery operations, including burning, skimming, chemical dispersion and direct recovery from the wellhead. … An additional 25 percent of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and 16 percent was dispersed naturally into microscopic droplets. The residual amount, just over one quarter (26 percent), is either on or just below the surface as residue and weathered tarballs, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Dispersed and residual oil remain in the system until they degrade through a number of natural processes. Early indications are that the oil is degrading quickly.

As I noted earlier today, despite the report’s rosy outlook, significant work remains to be done in the Gulf. There are still real questions about the spill’s long-term impacts in the region, and the upcoming victims’ compensation process is certain to be complicated.

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