David A. Fahrenthold and Leslie Tamura
July 29, 2010
Back in May, BP’s chief executive told a British newspaper that “the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean,” and the vast amounts of oil and chemical dispersants dumped into it were small by comparison. After he said that, BP’s well leaked for two more months. Hayward’s upbeat assessment was cast as one of many gaffes committed on his way to resignation.
Now, 14 days after the well was closed and 100 days after the blowout, U.S. government scientists are working on calculations that could shed some light on Hayward’s analysis (even if they can’t shed light on why he said it). They are trying to figure out where all the oil went.
Up to 4 million barrels (167 million gallons), the vast majority of the spill, remains unaccounted for in government statistics. Some of it has, most likely, been cleaned up by nature. Other amounts may be gone from the water, but they could have taken on a second life as contaminants in the air, or in landfills around the Gulf Coast.
And some oil is still out there — probably mixed with chemical dispersants. Some scientists have described it floating in underwater clouds, which one compared to a toxic fog.
This article was posted: Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 9:53 am