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Thursday, August 5, 2010

BP Oil Spill Hopefully Contained - For Good

 Focus Shifts To Mending Communities.

NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco explaining the sealing and containment phase that may have permanently stopped the oil from leaking in the Gulf, as National Incident Commander, Admiral Thad Allen looks on.  Photo/CD Brown.

During yesterday's White House press briefing Rear Admiral Thad Allen, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner, and NOAA's Jane Lubchenco came armed with pie charts and figures to show that the latest effort to contain the Gulf oil spill has been successful, and that for the most part, the oil has either "evaporated or been burned, skimmed and recovered from the wellhead, or dispersed."

Dispersed "means broken up from large chunks into smaller chunks", explained Lubchenco. "Dispersed oil is just little tiny droplets that then remain beneath the surface." 
The federal goverment released "new, scientific analysis" (that most Americans won't understand) showing where all that 'dispersed' oil went. Lubchenco describes it this way: 

 "827,000 barrels were recovered directly from the well site, said Lubchenco. "So, we know we’ve got that number measured directly. An additional 5 percent was burned. Another 3 percent was skimmed. In addition to that, 8 percent of the oil that was released has been chemically dispersed both with dispersants at the surface, as well as subsea. And so if you total up those five pie charts -- direct recovery, burned, skimmed and chemically dispersed -- that gives you a sense of what the results of the federal effort have been. And it totals about a third of the total amount of oil that has been released."

Pie chart showing where the oil went, assuming no more oil remains in the Gulf.

Some may find it hard to believe that an oil disaster some call worse than the Valdez oil spill of 1989 has been cleaned up in less than thirty days, when it took years to clean up the Alaskan Valdez disaster, leaving scientists saying that the spill continues to have residual damage and side effects.

We asked Carol Browner if oil in the Gulf affected nearby drinking and cooking water.  "We've seen no indication of impact on fresh water supply", said Browner.  "The EPA is closely monitoring air and other environmental impacts and we have seen no affects in the fresh water supply."

Scientists take issue with the BP analysis arguing that the report contains a heavy margin of error, and uses a formula that determined how much oil has evaporated near the surface, not deep underwater.

Millions of barrels of crude oil spewed in the Gulf of Mexico for almost 100 days. The administration is still holding BP accountable and says it is now, more so than ever, focusing on mending the lives of those of the Gulf.

"There remains a lot to be done", said Browner. "While sort of the first phase of closing the well may be coming to an end, there’s another phase, which is the restoration. It’s making sure that these communities, the individuals in these communities, are made whole."   

According to PB's web site, BP today started pumping cement into the MC252 well as part of the static kill procedure. The aim of the procedure is to assist with the strategy to kill and isolate the well. This procedure will complement the ongoing relief well operation.

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