“Will It Take a Submarine Ride to Show These BP Executives That These Plumes Exist?”

Graphics: BP logo/<em>Beatles</em> yellow submarine.

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According to a senior House member investigating the Gulf oil disaster, BP still won’t admit that oil is gathering in large plumes in the Gulf of Mexico, despite a new report from the federal government that shows the plumes do indeed exist. BP has been denying their existence for some time, and continues to and hide information that indicates otherwise, said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Wednesday.

Last month, shortly after BP CEO Tony Hayward argued that there was “no evidence” that these plumes exist, Markey sent the company a letter asking them to validate those claims, which BP then provided. But Markey says that BP’s response to his inquiry “omits information publicly available on EPA’s website that used BP’s own data,” as well as independent analysis that have been conducted on areas beyond the well site. (The documents BP provided are all posted on the Select Committee website.) Markey accused the company of “making questionable assertions using flawed and incomplete analysis” in a statement Wednesday.

When Hayward testified to House members last week, he was similiarly dismissive of the plumes. Hayward argued that there was only “oil in very low concentrations … distributed throughout the column,” when asked at the June 17 hearing. On Friday, Markey sent another letter to the company asking for more data to support their claims that these underwater plume don’t exist. The company has not yet responded to that request.

But the latest government report, issued Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, “confirms the existence of a previously discovered cloud of diffuse oil at depths of 3,300 to 4,600 feet near the wellhead.”

“NOAA and the EPA have confirmed these plumes exist. Independent scientists have confirmed these plumes exist,” said Markey. “Will it take a submarine ride to show these BP executives that these plumes exist?”

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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