The damage from oil during the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster to communities of tiny organisms living in and on the soft sediment on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico surrounding BP's Macondo well will take decades to repair, according to a new scientific study conducted by NOAA, BP and university researchers.
According to the study published in the online scientific journal PLOS One, the most damage to the abundance and diversity of tiny animal organisms extends 1.9 miles from the wellhead in all directions, covering a 9.3-square-mile area. Moderate damage was seen up to 10.6 miles to the southwest of the wellhead and 5.3 miles to the northeast, representing an area of 57 square miles, the researchers found.
It's the first time a study has attempted to outline the breadth of damage to life on the sea floor around the ill-fated well. The results meaning will be used as part of the federal effort to determine how much damage has been done to natural resources by the oil, which could lead to BP and others responsible for the accident developing a project to mitigate the damage.
The analysis is based on sediment samples collected during two surveys after the well was capped and the flow of oil was stopped in July, 2010. One research vessel collected samples from Sept. 16 through Oct. 19, 2010, and a second vessel took samples from Sept. 24 through Oct. 30, 2010.