Oil from 2010 BP spill found at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico
Friday, February 6, 2015, 8:38 PM - A new study suggests that up to 38 million liters of crude oil from the 2010 BP oil spill is resting on the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, posing a threat to the local ecosystem.
The findings have shed light on where 'missing' oil from the spill ended up -- a quandary that puzzled U.S. government and BP officials during massive cleanup efforts in April, 2010.
Of the nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the ocean, around 2 million remained unaccounted for, years after the disaster.
Florida researchers took 62 sediment samples from a 24,000 square kilometre space around the site of the BP oil spill and discovered that about 8,400 square km are covered with oil from spill.
"This is going to affect the Gulf for years to come," Jeff Chanton, the study's lead researcher and a professor of chemical oceanography at Florida State University, said in a statement.
"Fish will likely ingest contaminants because worms ingest the sediment, and fish eat the worms. It's a conduit for contamination into the food web."
The complete study was published Jan. 20 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
The new paper supports a separate study published in October by California researchers who claimed to have found up to 30% of the lost oil trapped in deposits along the sea floor.
REMEMBERING THE BP OIL SPILL
The BP oil spill - also referred to as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill - erupted on April 20, 2010, sparking an 87-day disaster that's considered to be one of the largest oil spills in U.S. history.
Eleven people died and millions of barrels of oil were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico between April 20 and July 15, 2010, causing extensive damage to bird sanctuaries, marine and wildlife habitats.
Massive losses were reported in the fishing and tourism industries.
Experts say it could take 'decades' for the ecosystem to recover.