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Undersea Oil Plumes Confirmed in Gulf

June 9, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. - Scientists working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the research vessel Weatherbird Two have confirmed the existence of undersea oil plumes about 25 miles northeast of the blown-out British Petroleum (BP) well in the Gulf. They say the oil concentrations are low, but point out there could still be implications for marine life - especially as the plumes drifts northward. Vickie Chachere is a spokesperson for the project.

"There has been the issue raised about whether all the oil was on the surface or not. Clearly, our scientists have now gathered evidence that there is oil below the surface of the water in the deep parts of the Gulf of Mexico."

The federal government response to the research is that the sampling was too small to definitively link the oil to the BP well. BP has also questioned the existence of below-surface plumes, but says it is looking into the possibility.

Chachere admits that a conclusive link cannot be made between the undersea oil plumes and the BP well; however, she says the circumstantial evidence is strong.

"In this particular area where we drew those samples, scientists a year ago doing some surveys had drawn water samples and had found that there were no dissolved hydrocarbons in that area. So we know this is a new feature out in the Gulf."

She says additional testing will be done on the already-collected samples, and their research vessel will return to the spill area soon for more sampling.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - NC