Scientists cannot find traces of oil in the deep water of the Gulf of Mexico three years after the nation's worst offshore spill, but residual toxins are still in the sediment along the coastal marshes, according to scientists at the University of Tennessee who have studied the effects of the spill.
Bacteria in the Gulf was already adapted to consuming oil that naturally leaks from the ground into the water there, said Terry Hazen, a Governor's Chair for Environmental Biotechnology at UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010, dumping 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf, the population of that unique bacteria exploded and consumed the oil at a remarkable rate, said Hazen, who was a professor at University of California-Berkeley at the time.
"The Gulf has an amazing capacity to take care of these things, including a lot of other organics and things coming out of the Mississippi River," Hazen said. "I'm not saying that everything is hunky-dory but there is a lot of cleaning capacity there. Oil is a natural product, it's just fossilized algae. So the ability to degrade oil is always there in nature."
Hazen was part of a team of researchers that tracked the oil during and in the months following the spill. His team used a new approach to discover these oil-eating bacteria. Thanks to a contract UT has with BP, he is now leading a team that is examining other potential deep-sea drilling sites around the world looking for similar bacteria.
Read the full story at the Knoxville News>>
National Fisherman Live: 11/06/14
In this episode:
NOAA report touts 2013 landings, value increases
Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first
NOAA and its fellow Natural Resource Damage Assessment trustees in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have announced the signing of a formal Record of Decision to implement a gulf restoration plan. The 44 projects, totaling an estimated $627 million, will restore barrier islands, shorelines, dunes, underwater grasses and oyster beds.