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Commentary: BP's leftover spill oil must be cleaned up now

Out of sight, out of mind. Floridians must not succumb to that mindset when it comes to last year’s catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The absence of tar balls on beaches and slicks on the Gulf’s surface are not reason to believe all is well. Not when scientists continue to find dead spots on the sea floor.

When the federal government’s own BP spill compensation czar puts on a happy face and claims all will be well next year, we have to wonder where he’s getting his information. From the oil industry? Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the $20 billion Gulf Coast Claims Facility, should take the latest research into account.

Last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington, marine scientist Samantha Joye showed video and slides produced during submarine dives around the site of the Macondo well blowout in April.

The University of Georgia researcher returned to spots she had surveyed over the summer, expecting oil-consuming microbes would have cleared the sites of oil and residue by now. But oil remains on the bottom along with dead marine life.

Joye’s research cannot be ignored since she and her colleagues conducted a thorough and widespread study during five different expeditions covering 2,600 square miles, with the final trip in December. The researchers took 250 core samples of the polluted sea floor. Through chemical fingerprints, they proved the oil came from BP’s well.

“Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge; the rest of it we don’t know,” Joye stated at the conference. “There’s a lot of it out there.”

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