Link: BP spill update: Of 17,000 USCG samples, few show oil above background level. #rsrh
Coast Guard: Little seafloor oil from Gulf spill
NEW ORLEANS — Federal scientists said Friday extensive sampling of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor found oil in quantities too small to collect and in concentrations below harmful levels, except in the area surrounding the BP well.
The Coast Guard’s report contrasts independent scientists who say oil from the BP spill extensively damaged the seafloor and killed coral, sea fans and many bottom-dwelling animals like tubeworms.
“We are not finding any recoverable amounts of oil” on the seafloor, Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft said. “We are dealing with barely detectable amounts of oil in the parts per billion in many places.”
He said the tiny amounts of oil fall well under pollution limits, except for the area within 1 1/2 miles of the BP well, where oil is bound with drilling mud pumped into the BP well to cap it.
The Coast Guard report was a summary of 17,000 water and sediment samples taken between May and October. The report said no further cleanup offshore was warranted and efforts should focus on tar and oil residue buried in the sand along the shore.
Oil in sediment samples could not be traced back to the BP well except for those taken near the well, the report said. In many places, the traces of oil could have come from other sources, such as natural oil seeps and even other oil leaks.
Since Aug. 3, the report said less than 1 percent of water and sediment samples exceeded levels the Environmental Protection Agency considers harmful to aquatic life.