A recent study reports that the infamous BP oil spill of 2010 has left an “oily bathtub ring” on the seafloor. The report by David Valentine, a professor of microbial geochemistry at the University of California at Santa Barbara, estimates that roughly 10 million gallons of oil has coalesced in an area around the size of Rhode Island. The Deepwater Horizons oil rig blew on April 20th, 2010, spewing 172 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico that summer.
“There’s this sort of ring where you see around the Macondo well where the concentrations are elevated,” Valentine said. Valentine posits that it is obvious that the oil originated from the Macondo well, based on its proximity to the well and the oil pattern. However, performing a chemical signature test to irrefutably prove the origin of the oil is impossible, as the oil has degraded over time.
According to the report, oil levels inside the ring are in some places as much as 10,000 times higher than normal. Chemical traces of the oil were found on the seafloor between two-thirds and one mile below the surface.
BP is skeptical about the conclusions made by this study. BP spokesman Jason Ryan wrote, “The authors failed to identify the source of the oil, leading them to grossly overstate the amount of residual Macondo oil on the seafloor and the geographic area in which it is found.”
While it is true that no chemical analysis has been completed, the depth of the oil, the pattern it was laid out in, and its proximity to the Macondo well seem to be smoking guns that the BP oil spill is responsible.
This study and its conclusions have been praised. They also appear to validate an earlier study that researched deep water coral that was coated, and likely damaged, by the BP oil spill.
Do you think BP should take responsibility for the remaining oil in the Gulf of Mexico?