Jane Van Ryan
Posted August 4, 2010
With the success of the static kill, another important step has been taken toward recovery from the worst marine oil spill in American history. It's estimated that 4.9 million barrels of oil, plus or minus 10 percent, poured into the Gulf of Mexico.
Fortunately, about three-quarters of the oil has evaporated, been skimmed, burned, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed, which is helping to degrade it. According to a report issued this morning by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), only about 26 percent of the oil remains in the water or onshore.
The report also points out that the oil in the water is mostly a light sheen on the surface or dispersed below the surface. The Deepwater Horizon Unified Command says, "Early indications are that the oil is degrading quickly."
NOAA adds that fears of an undiscovered oil slick are unfounded. "There's absolutely no evidence that there's any significant concentration of oil that's out there that we haven't accounted for," NOAA's Jane Lubchenco told reporters. (The New York Times)
Scientists have known for many years that the Gulf contains bacteria that feed on dispersed and weathered oil. The Gulf is a hospitable environment for the microbes--the water is warm, it contains favorable oxygen and nutrient levels, and oil enters the Gulf's waters regularly through naturally-occurring oil seeps.
With worries about the oil spill abating, Gulf fishing grounds are being reopened. At one time, 36 percent of Gulf federal waters were closed to fishing; today 24 percent remain closed. States also are reopening state fishing grounds near their coastlines.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.