Despite what BP and and the media may be reporting, a study by the Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia that was released yesterday stated that almost 80% of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster remains in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The study was written by five prominent marine scientists who analyzed data from the Aug. 2 National Incident Command Report which "calculated an 'oil budget' that was widely interpreted to suggest that only 25 percent of the oil from the spill remained." So that's where the media has been getting the figure of 25% -- way off from 80%, eh?
The research group estimated the evaporation and degradation rates, showing that it was "impossible" for that large an amount of oil to just dissolve. Only oil that remained on the surface could have dissolved into the atmosphere by now, whereas there are still large amounts of oil trapped underwater and sitting on the sea floor.
One major misconception is that oil that has dissolved into water is gone and, therefore, harmless, said Charles Hopkinson, director of Georgia Sea Grant and professor of marine sciences in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. The oil is still out there, and it will likely take years to completely degrade. We are still far from a complete understanding of what its impacts are.
On the upside, the scientists noted that the Franklin Eddy Loop Current will keep the oil from spreading to the Atlantic Ocean. The report also states that nature will continue to work its magic with the oil by evaporating and degrading it -- but how long will it take the planet to naturally rid itself of about 4.9 million barrels of it?