A Storm of Anxiety Over Fresh Oil Batters the Gulf


September 3, 2011

In the Gulf, another maelstrom has hit. But the tropical storm Mother Nature has brewed  is not the top concern on some resident’s minds. Instead they are worried about the threat of fresh oil sighted in the general vicinity of BP’s Macondo well.

The fact there is oil and sheen in the water now is irrefutable. After weeks of denial the Coast Guard has finally admitted it’s there. But where it’s coming from and how much is bubbling up from the seabed is still very much in question. BP and the Coast Guard say there is no indication the oil sheen spotted recently—linked by some scientists to BP–is coming from a leak in the Deepwater Horizon well. But some speculate it could be coming from a crack in the seabed created by the explosion and three-month blowout that poured 170 million gallons of crude into the Gulf last year.

Bonnie Schumaker, a former NASA scientist and founder of On Wings of Care, flew numerous times over the waters near the Deepwater Horizon well last month and captured what appears to be slicks of oil and sheen stretching for miles. She says she immediately reported her findings and coordinates to the Coast Guard and to research vessels in the area. The Coast Guard initially told her they sent out aircraft and boats to find the slicks but couldn’t find them. That, she says, is baffling.

“How can a girl in a little airplane can go out and find oil with her own eyes day after day and the Coast Guard can’t find it?” She estimates her most recent sighting of oil this week found an oil sheen ten miles long and four miles wide, about 15 miles from the Macondo well. See her video from a flight on August 30th.

In fact, we found so much oil out in the Macondo Prospect (near the site of the April 2010 explosion), that we have an 11-minute video of it that never covers the same area twice!  Not since last summer have we seen this kind of expansive surface sheen.   Metallic-gray and rainbow swirls stretched for miles, mixed with dark-brown stuff that resembled weathered crude more than sargassum weed.  And there were those round-shaped ‘globs’ of oil again, here, there, and everywhere it seemed.  We did not want to see this stuff anymore!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nrdcpix/6106054247/#mce_temp_url#

Bonnie Schumaker found oil slicks in Gulf this week     Photos: Bonnie Schumaker

Continued here:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rkistner/a_storm_of_anxiety_over_fresh.html