Oceanographers at Texas A&M Corpus Christi say the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are far more widespread than previously believed, and say it could take 'decades' for the Gulf to fully recover from the disaster, 1200 WOAI news reprots.
Dr. Paul Montagna says the 'unseen effects are so much larger than the seen effects,' and researchers have found pollution on the Gulf floor more than two miles from the site of the spill.
Montagna says normally, pollution is found about 300 yards from a well incident.
"My goodness, how are you supposed to vacuum that up," he asked. "The restoration strategy for the deep sea is going to have to be far more innovative."
He says the problem is the temperature of the deep Gulf is about 39 degrees, about the temperature of a kitchen refrigerator. He says those cold conditions retard the national recovery actions of the ocean, and the fact that the pollution plume spreads much further than first feared is also a problem.
"The oil spill and plume covered almost 360 square miles with the most severe reduction of biological abundance and biodiversity impacting an area about 9 miles square around the wellhead, and moderate effects seen 57 square miles around the wellhead," he said.
Montagna's findings, published in the peer reviewed on line journal PLoS One, are the first to give comprehensive results of the spill's effect on deepwater communities at the base of the Gulf's food chain, in its soft-bottom muddy habitats, specifically looking at biological composition and chemicals at the same time and at the same location."
"This is not yet a complete picture," said Cynthia Cooksey, lead scientist for the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She says additional readings taken in 2011 are currently being studied.
"Those data will not be available for another year, but will inform how we look at conditions over time."
Montagna says while much of the focus of environmentalists has been oil on the surface, but his study shows the problem is far worse than firs thought in the deepest regions of the Gulf.
"The unseen effects are so much later than the seen effects."