Less oil found in Gulf of Mex­ico

Los Angeles Times - - The Nation - Bet­tina Box­all bet­tina.box­all @latimes.com

Oil con­cen­tra­tions in the Gulf of Mex­ico are con­tin­u­ing to de­cline, fed­eral sci­en­tists said Tues­day.

“We’ve been see­ing a very clear trend of di­min­ished con­cen­tra­tions,” said Sam Walker, a chief sci­ence ad­vi­sor with the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion, or NOAA. “Par­tic­u­larly in the wa­ter col­umn, we’re down into the partsper-bil­lion range now.”

BP’s blown-out well, which was fully plugged over the week­end, has not leaked since mid-July. As a re­sult, hy­dro­car­bon lev­els are much lower than early in the sum­mer, when sam­ples taken by sci­en­tists de­tected large plumes of tiny oil droplets float­ing in deep wa­ters in the parts-per-mil­lion range.

Walker said at a news brief­ing that NOAA was con­tin­u­ing ex­ten­sive sam­pling, both of seafloor sed­i­ments and the wa­ter col­umn.

“There are in fact places where oil still re­sides,” he said, par­tic­u­larly in sed­i­ments near the shore.

Al­though about 23,000 cleanup work­ers re­main on duty, their num­bers are fall­ing and the re­sponse ef­fort is be­ing con­sol­i­dated.

Crews are still skim­ming resid­ual oil from Louisiana marshes and scour­ing pock­ets of oil along 600 miles of shore­line from Louisiana to Florida, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft said at the brief­ing.

The fed­eral govern­ment is also map­ping and test­ing nat­u­ral oil seep­age to help sci­en­tists dis­tin­guish it from the BP spill.

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