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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid