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Oil Spills


First Study of Dispersants in Gulf Spill Suggests a Prolonged Deepwater Fate

To combat last year?s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nearly 800,000 gallons of chemical dispersant were injected directly into the oil and gas flow coming out of the wellhead nearly one mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, as scientists begin to assess how well the strategy worked at breaking up oil droplets, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) chemist Elizabeth B. Kujawinski and her colleagues report that a major component of the dispersant itself was contained within an oil-gas-laden plume in the deep ocean and had still not degraded some three months after it was applied.

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WHOI Website Will Take Viewers Deep into the Gulf

It may take years before scientists determine the full impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But, utilizing the human-occupied submersible Alvin and the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry, researchers are about to investigate?and view first-hand?the possible effects of the spill at the bottom of the Gulf. And, from Dec. 6-14, the mission will be relayed to the public as it happens on the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution?s (WHOI) Dive and Discover website (http://divediscover.whoi.edu).

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WHOI Scientists Map and Confirm Origin of Large, Underwater Hydrocarbon Plume in Gulf

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) detected and characterized a plume of hydrocarbons that is at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The work presents a forensic snapshot of the plume characteristics in June and is reported in a study appearing in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Science.

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Oil in Our Coastal Back Yard

Oil in Our Coastal Back Yard

On September 16, 1969, the barge Florida ran aground off Cape Cod, rupturing its hull and spilling 189,000 gallons of No. 2 fuel oil. Winds and waves pushed the oil onto the beaches and marshes of West Falmouth, Massachusetts, carrying with it dead lobsters, scup, and cod.

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Mixing Oil and Water

Mixing Oil and Water

In recent decades scientists have made substantial progress in understanding how oil enters the oceans, what happens to it, and how it affects marine organisms and ecosystems. This knowledge has led to regulations, practices, and decisions that have helped us reduce sources of pollution, prevent and respond to spills, clean up contaminated environments, wisely dredge harbors, and locate new petroleum handling facilities.

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