News / USA

Divers Find Oil Under Surface; BP Continues to Deny

A cloud of oil in the water
A cloud of oil in the water

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirms that some of the oil escaping from that ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is staying beneath the surface, raising new environmental concerns about the disaster. BP says there is no significant oil staying underwater.

Scuba divers showed U.S. legislators video of the spill which they shot while 20 meters under the sea and 64 kilometers off the U.S. Gulf coast.  The oil is so thick below this depth that it blocks out almost all light. "Something I've never seen in diving, in my whole life out here," said diver Al Walker.

Fellow diver Scott Porter says the substance feels like a mixture of clay and wax.  He had to scrape it off his hands.  Soap had no effect. "I don't know of anything that would be able to live through that," Porter said.

Yet on Wednesday, BP continued to deny any large amount of oil under the surface.

"No one has yet found any concentrations that measured higher than the parts per million," said BP's Doug Suttles.

Meantime, Congress conducted five oil spill hearings on Capitol Hill Wednesday.  Legislators want to know why risks weren't studied when oil rigs drill 5,000 feet below the water.

"I'm just terribly bothered about the lack of foresight, both by our government and of BP and, of course, BP will pay a price for that," said Congressman Vernon Ehlers. "Perhaps even a failure of the corporation at the rate it's going."

"The industry pretends that accidents simply can't happen and the government pretends that industry is the most reliable source of information for making regulatory decisions," said Jeffrey Short. "In the end, this socializes all the risks and privatizes all the profits."

Scientists say BP's usage of nearly four million liters of dispersants is forcing the oil to remain at lower depths in the ocean, where it is carried along the water columns with the currents.  The result is a plume, which depletes oxygen and kills off living organisms.

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart posed this question to the Environmental Protection Agency's Albert Venosa: "We know the effects of crude oil are coming to the surface and oiling the animals, but we do not know what the long-term effects are of this thing floating along in the water column. Could it be worse than if it would have been allowed to just float?"  

"I can only speculate," said Venosa. "I don't really know."

"So, here we are releasing hundreds of thousands of gallons [liters], whatever the number is gallons....of this chemical into the ocean, not knowing what the affect is going to be longterm, if it's worse or not," said Diaz-Balart. "That to me is inconceivable."

However, if no dispersants were used, all the oil would be surfacing.  Visible on the beach.  Visible on the animals.  Scientists now say it's what they can't clearly see that's starting to worry them.  


Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More