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NOAA: BP well produced undersea oil plumes

After four cruises into the oil-stained waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a team of federal scientists Wednesday released a report confirming what other researchers concluded weeks ago: ``The preponderance of evidence'' points to BP's ruptured well as the source of massive undersea oil plumes.

But after two months, what's happening with the diffused clouds drifting beneath the floating goo, sticky tar balls, and shimmering surface still remains murky. It could take several more months for the federal agency in charge of assessing spill damage to simply get a good grasp of how much oil remains drifting below.

During a stop in Miami, Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- criticized by some scientists for being slow to jump into the Gulf disaster -- said federal assessment efforts were making headway. But she also acknowledged the Gulf spill, unprecedented in both volume and complexity, had strained the agency's resources and technology.

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