BP Spill: Where is the Oil?

The federal government just released that spill report I referred to earlier. The report confirms the government’s claim that only about a quarter of the oil spilled from the well—or roughly 51.5 million gallons—remains at or just below the surface in the Gulf. Another quarter of the oil was dispersed, either naturally or via the nearly two million gallons of chemical dispersant, into the depths of the sea.

This is good news, but this doesn’t mean the problem is solved. There’s still a lot of oil out there—about nine and a half Exxon Valdez spills in total. So, while other news outlets are reporting headlines like, “Nearly 3/4 of BP spill oil gone from Gulf,” it’s actually closer to half. And, most importantly, the impacts of dispersing so much of that oil throughout the water column are still not well understood.

Also, as several others have pointed out to me, the report doesn’t include much in the way of specifics on the supporting data used to reach these conclusions. I’m trying to get more background from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on that.

Here’s the graph included in the government report:

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.