Close Video

Science & Tech

Scientists discover evidence of significant damage from BP oil spill

The oil BP tried to hide with nearly 2 million gallons of chemical dispersant has been discovered in thick layers on the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico. The area of contamination covers several thousand square miles and scientists from the University of South Florida say the environmental damage is "significant."

All the marine life in the settled oil was dead, according to the scientists who saw the damage from research vessels.

The disruption to the food chain could be significant. Scientists may not know the full extent of the damage for months, if not years. Fish and other marine life that depended on the worms and other microorganisms to survive may also die if they are unable to find other food sources.

Biomarkers are tests that confirm the origin of spilled oil through a chemical signature. University of South Florida oceanographer David Hollander said in an interview that "he and colleagues have just completed tests showing that the chemical profile of oil they found in Gulf sediment matches that from the blown-out BP well," according to the Wall Street Journal. Hollander said, "The chemical signatures are identical."

Throughout the Deepwater Horizon disaster, numerous scientists and whistle blowers warned of the dangers of BP's excessive use of dispersant on the massive oil spill. They claimed that sinking the oil rather than removing it from the surface was little more than a ploy by BP to hide the size of the spill, which in turn, would lower the amount of money the company would have to pay for environmental damage.

The Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010 and the subsequent oil spill is reported to have poured 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The flame-engulfed rig sank into five thousand feet of water two days later.

Eleven men died in the explosion the night of the disaster. On June 23rd, the US Coast Guard confirmed the death of two members of the cleanup crew who had been overcome by exposure to BP's chemical dispersant. BP and the EPA claimed that the dispersant Corexit, was ‘as harmless as dish soap.'

You may also like: BP oil spill leaves deadly blanket on Gulf of Mexico floor

Gulf oil spill: Did BP choose profits over modern oil spill cleanup technology?

Brad Meltzer's DECODED explores murder of Lewis and Clark explorer on History Channel