Tests Confirm Spreading Oil Plumes in the Gulf

Despite BP’s near-constant denial, these massive plumes of oil are spreading below the surface of the Gulf. Can we all just say in unison, BP sucks!

Was There Anything I Could Do?

The government and university researchers confirmed Tuesday that plumes of dispersed oil were spreading far below the ocean surface from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising fresh concern about the potential impact of the spill on sea life.

The tests, the first detailed chemical analyses of water from the deep sea, show that some of the most toxic components of the oil are not necessarily rising to the surface where they can evaporate, as would be expected in a shallow oil leak. Instead, they are drifting through deep water in plumes or layers that stretch as far as 50 miles from the leaking well.

As a rule, the toxic compounds are present at exceedingly low concentrations, the tests found, as would be expected given that they are being diluted in an immense volume of seawater.

“It’s pretty clear that the oil that has been released is becoming more and more dilute,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in an interview. “That does not mean it’s unimportant — far from it. The total amount of oil out there is likely very large, and we have yet to understand the full impact of all that hydrocarbon on the gulf ecosystem.”

BP’s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, continued to insist Wednesday morning on the “Today” show on NBC that no underwater oil plumes in “large concentrations” have been detected from the spill, saying that it “may be down to how you define what a plume is here.”

But scientists outside the government noted that the plumes appeared to be so large that organisms might be bathed in them for extended periods, possibly long enough to kill eggs or embryos. They said this possibility added greater urgency to the effort to figure out exactly how sea life was being affected, work that remains in its infancy six weeks after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.

(click to continue reading Tests Confirm Spreading Oil Plumes in the Gulf – NYTimes.com.)

Nancy Snow writes:

Get Really Close to Another Human Being This Life Time

Hey friends, try this search term “BP Sucks” and see what you find.

Those good folks at British Petroleum don’t want us to miss out on the company’s herculean efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s why you can find all the BP-sponsored advertising links when you type in more innocuous Google search terms like “oil spill” or “oil spill cleanup.” You’ll find friendly come-ons prominently displayed at the top of your search page with phrases like “Learn more about how BP is helping.”

Seems the company finally got a clue, hmm, over six weeks in, that this might just be a PR debacle of supersize proportions for BP.

I don’t know what Google charges to buy frequency and recency placement in favorable advertising. I do know that it’s a fundamental principle of strategic communication in targeted messaging. When you are hungry, McDonald’s wants you thinking burgers and fries. And when you’re thinking oil spill, BP wants you to click on its version of the story first and keep coming back for more news about how BP is helping.

(click to continue reading Nancy Snow: Google This! BP Sucks, Just Not Enough Oil.)

More from Justin Gillis’ story:

Those readings suggest that a large plume, probably consisting of hydrocarbons from the leak, stretches through the deep ocean for at least 15 miles west of the gushing oil well, Dr. Joye said. The top of the plume is about 3,600 feet below the sea surface; the plume is three miles wide and as thick as 1,500 feet in spots, she said.

The University of South Florida researchers found an even larger plume stretching northeast of the oil well, with the hydrocarbons separated into two distinct layers in the ocean. One layer is about 1,200 feet below the surface, and the other is 3,000 feet deep, the scientists said.

The government’s confirmation of subsea oil plumes is significant in part because BP, the oil company responsible for the leak, had denied that such plumes existed, and NOAA itself had previously been cautious in interpreting the preliminary results from Dr. Joye’s group.

“The oil is on the surface,” Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, said last week. “There aren’t any plumes.”

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