Energy & Environment

Deepwater Horizon spill larger than previously believed: study

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The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was approximately 30 percent larger than previously thought, according to a study published Wednesday.

The study, published in Science Advances, found that large portions of the Gulf of Mexico were exposed to “invisible and toxic oil that extended beyond the boundaries of the satellite footprint.”

“The cumulative satellite oil slick footprint was largely accepted as the [Deepwater Horizon] oil spill extent from scientific, public, and management perspectives,” the study said. “Yet, accumulating field data support a much wider extent.”

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon spill released millions of gallons of oil from BP’s Macondo well into the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers were killed. 

The new study said that the spill reached the west Florida shelf, the Texas shores and the Florida Keys. 

“Oil spills are more than the satellite footprint,” Sstudy lead author Igal Berenshtein told The Hill on Thursday. “Even after the spill is no longer visible, toxic concentration can still persist.”

Study co-author Claire Paris-Limouzy told CNN that the spill was approximately 30 percent larger than previously estimated. 

She said in a statement that the results “change established perceptions about the consequences of oil spills by showing that toxic and invisible oil can extend beyond the satellite footprint at potentially lethal and sub-lethal concentrations to a wide range of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.”

On the same day that the study was published, BP announced a goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.

—Updated at 4:10 p.m.

Tags Deepwater Horizon

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