‘No Sign of Oil’ in the Gulf Now? Really?

by Bill Chameides | July 30th, 2010
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

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Travels with TheGreenGrok — The latest dispatch in a series on interesting places my deanly duties are whisking me off to.

The ABC News report entitled “Hopeful Signs on Day 100 of BP Oil Spill” that aired on Tuesday doesn’t jibe with my experience in the gulf this week.

While I was in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, Dianne Sawyer introduced a special, on-the-scene report by Jeffery Kofman. Its striking visuals and sound bites include:

  • Skimmer boats idle in the gulf because of “no oil to skim.”
  • A man working the booms along the shore claiming he hasn’t “seen any oil come ashore for more than a month.”
  • And, most remarkably, a shot of Mr. Kofman on July 27th standing in what looks like clean grasses — the same spot of previously “oil-soaked marsh” he’d reported from … on May 18th.

The “before” shot shows Mr. Kofman in his waders among oily muck. In the “after” shot Mr. Kofman, though noting that there were signs of “what looks like fresh oil,” says of the oil, “no sign of it now.”

Hallelujah! The oil has dissolved or floated away or evaporated or maybe eaten by ravenous little microbes. Who knows, but it’s gone.

Not quite. How about a little reality check?

1.    No oil to skim? Look at this.

While it’s true that there’s naturally a lot less oil now that the well has been capped, there is oil floating around, like this stuff I came across just outside of Bayou Wilkinson on Wednesday, July 28.

Photo by Chris Hildreth/Duke Photography

2. Oil ashore?

Again, the good news is that much of the coastal margins have been spared major oilings a lot of luck there with storms and such. But there’s still a good deal of oil ashore. Just take a look at this photo shot in Bay Jimmy yesterday.

Photo by Chris Hildreth/Duke Photography

And there are still crews out there setting booms and trying to clean sometimes even vacuumingthe goop up.

Photo by Chris Hildreth/Duke Photography

3. The before-and-after shots

Yes, Mr. Kofman’s before-and-after shots are striking, but would he have found the same thing if he had dug below the surface?

And do a careful comparison of the before and after in the video clip. There is actually a very striking change. The marsh in the after shot is BROWN AND DEAD. Is that really a “hopeful sign?” I’ll have more on my own impressions of the state of the gulf on Monday.

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