Less oil found in Gulf of Mexico
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.