No Dead-Zones in Gulf From BP Dispersant & Oil-Eating Microbes
Oxygen levels in Gulf Remain Viable Despite Large Dispersant Use
When BP decided to use unprecedented amounts of the chemical dispersant Corexit during the months of the oil spill, scientists and BP oil spill observers held their figurative breath. The chemical dispersant would help the gushing oil spill coagulate and break up, hopefully assisting the oil-eating microbes that live in the Gulf. However, would it also lead to a dangerous reduction of oxygen in the water and the creation of “dead zones”? According to a government report released today, that particular bullet missed the beleaguered Gulf. The microbes are doing their oil-eating best, and oxygen levels remain viable.
BP released 771,000 gallons of Corexit dispersant close to the ruptured well head, about one mile under the surface of the Gulf in the hope that the oil spill would break up before reaching the surface. The federal government’s scientists and officials closely monitored oxygen levels throughout the process as oil-eating microbe populations increased in response to the plentiful 'food'. Although tests in the Gulf have uncovered up to a 20 percent oxygen reduction in certain areas of the BP oil spill, it is not a serious enough oxygen loss to create “dead zones” where fish and other marine organisms cannot survive.
Current success notwithstanding, BP and government officials still face questions concerning the long-term effects of using such a massive amount of dispersant to clean up the oil spill.