Gulf Cleanup

Scientists: Oil Has Not Vanished

Scientists are disputing the federal government’s contention that a huge amount of the oil leaked in the massive BP spill has disappeared. A government team said earlier this month that almost three-quarters of the oil, or 4.9 million barrels, had broken down in the water or been sucked up in cleanup efforts. It gave many along the Gulf Coast hope that the damage caused by the spill might not be so bad. But an oceanographer at Florida State University, Ian MacDonald, will testify before the House energy and commerce subcommittee Thursday that those estimates are misleading—only 10 percent of the leaked oil was actually taken out of the water. McDonald, according to his prepared testimony, will say oxygen levels are too low to support claims of such quick disintegration of the goo. Other scientists have criticized the government’s claims, saying much of the hydrocarbons released in the spill was in the form of methane and other gas, which the government hasn’t accounted for.