Sort-of-clean won’t do

Pressed for time, you cram all old newspapers and magazines, empty soda bottles, plates and glasses, dirty clothes and the like into a spare closet.

You know your house isn’t really clean, but the mess is now out of sight. At least on the surface things look clean.

One wonders if such a strategy will be employed with the oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from the now-capped Deepwater Horizon well. This week Jerry Greenberg, a contributor to our sister publication WorkBoat magazine, had an interesting post on his WorkBoat.com blog regarding where all the oil has gone. http://www.workboat.com/blogpost.aspx?id=4294998209

According to a recent report from the National Incident Command, Greenberg writes, of the 4.9 million barrels of oil released into the gulf, 25 percent evaporated or dissolved, 17 percent was recovered directly from the wellhead, 16 percent naturally dispersed, 8 percent was chemically dispersed, 5 percent burned and 3 percent was skimmed.

So that’s 74 percent of the oil accounted for. The remaining 26 percent is classified as “residual” oil, “which includes oil that’s on or just below the surface as a light sheen, weathered tar balls and oil that’s washed ashore, been collected from shore or is buried in sand and sediments,” Greenberg writes.

Hence, 1.27 million barrels are still uncollected or unaccounted for. So at 42 gallons a barrel, by my calculations, we’re talking a paltry 53.3 million gallons still at large.

Hardly anything, really…

And hey, the mess is now out of sight, so everything will look OK to the tourists. At least on the surface, things will look clean.

But we know it’s not really clean. And sweeping the remaining oil under the carpets, stuffing it under the couch cushions or hiding it in the closet won’t do.

About the author

© Diversified Communications. All rights reserved.