There are fears the Gulf of Mexico oil slick could reach the Florida coastline. Crude has been gushing uncontrollably out of a ruptured well since the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded last month.
As the slick on the sea’s surface visibly grows, scientists say they are now more worried about what’s going on underwater.
“Most people are interested in the oil that you can see,” said Vernon Asper, from the University of Southern Mississippi. “We are interested in the oil you can’t see. And we found some oil just below the surface which is formed into aggregates that we think are probably settling. We also found oil much deeper in the water column. We found layers, or i guess you can call them clouds of oil that are well down, over 2,000 feet down in the water column. Some of them are much lower than that.”
However British Petroleum, which has taken responsibility for the spill, told a congressional hearing that more proof was needed.
“If someone has data on a plume, in terms of extend or density or anything else we want to get that data. But right now, I think we ought to be cautious in terms of defining what plumes are out there and how they are behaving,” said Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America.
Heads are already rolling in the wake of the disaster. The official in charge of overseeing offshore drilling in the US will vacate his post at the end of the month, and President Barack Obama plans to set up a commission to formally investigate the disaster.
Meanwhile the US Coast Guard is monitoring the spill and preparing for the possibility that it could reach the southern coast of Florida.