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Images: Popular Way to Assess Oil Spills Can Be Misused

The “pom-pom” method uses long strands of absorbent polypropylene swabs, which look like cheerleaders’ pom-poms, dragged along ocean- or river-bottom sediments to locate large areas where spilled oil has sunk. The method is in demand because it offers a rapid, low-cost results, but a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has cautioned that the method is in danger of being misused. (Courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
Following the November 2007 oil spill in Francisco Bay, Chris Reddy, a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Insitution, collects oil samples at Pirates Cove, Marin County, Calif. (Bryce Reddy)
In November 2007, the 900-foot-long M/V Cosco Busan struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (not the Golden Gate Bridge in the background here). The collision tore a 200-foot hole in its hull and spilling 58,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into San Francisco Bay. (Photo by Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin J. Neff)
The M/V Cosco Busan oil spill killed wildlife and closed beaches, but officials also had to assess whether oil had sunk into ocean sediments that were dredged for use in a tidal wetlands restoration project. (Photo courtesy of NOAA)
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