Monday, April 18, 2011

One year after spill, where's the oil?

One year ago this week, an oil-rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico touched off a deep-sea leak amounting to 2.5 million gallons of Louisiana light crude every day for months. In all, nearly 207 million gallons (4.9 million barrels) of oil are thought to have gushed from the leak, along with huge volumes of methane. So what's happened to all those petrochemicals over the past year? The answer is surprisingly complex and contentious. Most researchers also agree that the spill was a catastrophe, no matter how the percentages for those various categories add up. "This was an ecological disaster, no doubt about it," Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told me. More>