NPR logo Obama Team's Gulf Gusher Report Draws Skepticism


Obama Team's Gulf Gusher Report Draws Skepticism

For those skeptical about the the Obama Administration's report Wednesday that about three quarters of the oil that escaped from BP's broken well was accounted for, with much of it evaporating or being eaten by bacteria, you're not alone.

Some scientists share the same doubts.

An excerpt from an Associated Press story:

"This is a shaky report. The more I read it, the less satisfied I am with the thoroughness of the presentation," Florida StateUniversity oceanography professor Ian MacDonald told The Associated Press. "There are sweeping assumptions here..."

... "This is just way too neat," said Larry McKinney, director ofthe Texas A&M University research center on the Gulf of Mexico. "How can you even do this at this point? There's a lot of oil still floating out there."

McKinney said he most worried that this overly optimistic assessment would cost the government - and save BP - billions of dollars in the damage assessment process. McKinney, who has served as a state of Texas trustee in the process, said, "BP attorneys are placing this in plastic and putting this in frames."

In a report on All Things Considered, NPR's Richard Harris noted that even the administration's top scientist on ocean matters,  Jane Lubchenco, wasn't quite as sanguine as other officials. She said 50 percent of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico could still be out there with much of it causing environmental damage.

As Richard said in his report:

So that means there are about 10 Exxon Valdez's worth of oil that could be out in the gulf. This includes oil that's on the marshes, buried under the sand, floating as a light sheen in a few places still but also a large volume of oil that's still way out, deep under the ocean.

Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says that oil is now gradually being eaten up by microbes out in the gulf. But the oil that remains can't simply be dismissed.

Lubchenco said the remaining oil that's in microscopic droplets could be toxic to "small creatures in the water that it encounters."



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