BP Gulf gusher - Government report is overly optimistic

Copyright © 2010 Bob Persons
August 4, 2010

Re: U.S. Finds Most Oil From Spill Poses Little Additional Risk, in today's New York Times.

So 76% of the oil from the BP Gulf gusher has "disappeared". If the government is serious, it must mean "disappeared from immediate concern". Because oil doesn't disappear. That would be magic.

The government report says the remaining 26% "is on or just below the surface as light sheen or weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments". It admits these could cause problems, but it seems to be downplaying the seriousness. Certainly, tar balls are easier to deal with, if you can find them, and if they are not buried for later storms to dig up. The stuff that is washed ashore is there, probably not going any further - until a storm churns it all up again.

Not wanting to be a doomsayer, not wanting to continue beating BP with a stick, not wanting to see the economic hole this has caused in the Gulf, and most of all not wanting to get into a pissing match with the "let's open it up for drilling again" crowd, I do believe this report is overly optimistic about the long-term effects of this disaster. A large portion of it may be under control now (and maybe that's what the government is really saying), but I don't see that we know enough about it to know with any kind of certainty. Largest spill in water in history. The largest use of dispersants in history. These oft-used slogans, and others, imply we have very little history to rely on for our judgment of current and future consequences.

All in all, I see that only the 17% that has been captured will not be a problem. The other 83% still exists in the wrong place in our environment in some form or other, and we don't know a heck of a lot about the consequences of that 83%.

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