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Study: BP Oil Still Fresh on Gulf

Oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill coats marsh wetlands in Bay Jimmy near Port Sulphur, Louisiana, 11 Jun 2010 (file photo).

A new study says balls of tar from last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are not breaking down as fast as officials had expected.

Auburn University researchers say oil samples that washed up on the beach after Tropical Storm Lee earlier this month appeared very similar to fresh oil deposits taken from the beach more than a year ago.

They say their data contradicts the widely held belief that submerged oil, which gushed for nearly three months from a hole in sea floor drilled in the BP-operated Macondo Prospect, has "substantially" broken down.

BP has not commented on the new study. The company was out cleaning the beaches earlier this month after Tropical Storm Lee washed up remnants of the April 2010 spill.

The 85-day underwater leak that spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.