Here’s where nearly half the oil from Gulf of Mexico spill went

About 2 million of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that escaped from the undersea Macondo well following the April 2010 explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig apparently came to rest on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, according to new research. It now covers an area of about 1,235 square miles, possibly migrating near deep-sea coral.

Here’s an excerpt from a story in the Houston Chronicle:

“Our findings suggest that these deposits come from Macondo oil that was first suspended in the deep ocean and then settled to the seafloor without ever reaching the ocean surface,” [UC Santa Barbara microbial geochemist David] Valentine said.

Light, freshly released oil normally is generally not expected to sink, and even dispersed oil is more likely to remain suspended in water.

Valentine described the footprint as a “shadow of the tiny oil droplets that were initially trapped” higher up, in the water above. “Some combination of chemistry, biology and physics ultimately caused those droplets to rain down another 1,000 feet to rest on the seafloor,” he added.

Salon: Since Deepwater Horizon, ‘we have voted to do nothing’’s Andrew O’Hehir has a thought-provoking post on the new documentary “The Great Invisible,” about the 2010 explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig.

O’Hehir makes the point that the film doesn’t demonize BP and other oil companies for the spill, because of our “larger relationship to oil,” as the film’s director, Margaret Brown, put it. She goes on:

“Why don’t we understand our connection to this thing that we use every day, but we never see, as it travels from sometimes miles beneath the surface of the ocean into the tank of our car, and then back out into the atmosphere?” As the oil trader mentioned above observes, we have defined our standard of living by the ability to drive anywhere we want and buy any kind of product, at any hour of the day or night. That simply isn’t possible without a constant, uninterrupted and ever-increasing supply of oil …”

The film also interviews many of the survivors of the accident, in which 11 men were killed. A post by Rachel Guillory of Ocean Conservancy delves into this angle, which includes the many safety lapses associated with the rig:

“There were 26 different mistakes made,” said Keith Jones, father of Gordon Jones—a drilling engineer who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The cement hadn’t cured, he said, there was rubber in the drilling mud and the hydraulics for the blow-out preventer were not working. These stories from staff aboard the Deepwater Horizon support the presidential oil spill commission’s conclusion that the BP oil disaster was caused by a culture of complacency, rather than a culture of safety.

Politico lets environmentalist respond to BP op-ed

Earlier this week Politico, the online politics magazine, allowed an environmentalist with extensive knowledge of the British Petroleum/Deepwater Horizon disaster respond to BP’s widely criticized op-ed published on the magazine last week. Kara Lankford of Ocean Conservancy says: “The full effects of 210 million gallons of oil on the Gulf cannot be easily dismissed …”

Read the full story on Politico.