The ingredient was found nearly 200 miles from the wellhead two months after BP stopped applying dispersants. Tests indicate the amount found wasn’t toxic, but ‘we don’t really know what effect it had on the environment,’ the lead researcher says.
By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
January 26, 2011, 5:33 p.m.
A key ingredient of the chemical dispersants released last summer at BP’s spewing wellhead persisted in the Gulf of Mexico’s deep waters for two months and was carried by currents nearly 200 miles, according to a study released Wednesday.
The research, conducted by scientists from California universities and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, sheds light on the fate of the 771,000 gallons of dispersants – which had never before been released at such depths – but does not address their effect on deep-sea life, or whether they worked as intended.
BP applied about 2 million gallons of dispersants to break down the oil during the four months it gushed into the gulf and to keep it from reaching sensitive shore environments. More than half that amount was sprayed on the water’s surface, but 771,000 gallons were pumped into the clouds of oil and gas that billowed from the seabed, nearly a mile below.
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