Where Did The Spilled Gulf Oil Go?

Ken AshfordDisasters, Energy and Conservation, Environment & Global Warming & Energy3 Comments

Now that the well is capped, there seems to be relatively little effect on the environment — at least as not as much as anticipated.

I'm not complaining, of course…. but one wonders why the environmental effects aren't devastating.

The answer, possibly, is this:

A newly discovered type of oil-eating microbe suddenly is flourishing in the Gulf of Mexico and  gobbling up the BP spill at a much faster rate than expected, scientists reported Tuesday.

Scientists discovered the new microbe while studying the underwater dispersion of millions of gallons of oil spilled since the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

Also, the microbe works without significantly depleting oxygen in the water, researchers reported in the online journal Sciencexpress.

"Our findings … suggest that a great potential for intrinsic bioremediation of oil plumes exists in the deep-sea," lead researcher Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, California, said in a statement.

The data is also the first ever on microbial activity from a deep-water dispersed oil plume, Hazen said.

Now, this is clearly good news, but it strikes me as a little oddly convenient.  There have been massive oil spills before — why hasn't this microbe appeared then?