"Major Study Proves Oil Plume That's Not Going Away"

"A 22-mile-long invisible mist of oil is meandering far below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, where it will probably loiter for months or more, scientists reported Thursday in the first conclusive evidence of an underwater plume from the BP spill.

The most worrisome part is the slow pace at which the oil is breaking down in the cold, 40-degree water, making it a long-lasting but unseen threat to vulnerable marine life, experts said.

Earlier this month, top federal officials declared the oil in the spill was mostly 'gone,' and it is gone in the sense you can't see it. But the chemical ingredients of the oil persist more than a half-mile beneath the surface, researchers found.

And the oil is degrading at one-tenth the pace at which it breaks down at the surface. That means 'the plumes could stick around for quite a while,' said study co-author Ben Van Mooy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, which led the research published online in the journal Science."

Seth Borenstein reports for the Assoociated Press August 19, 2010.

SEE ALSO:

"Oil Plume Is Not Breaking Down Fast, Study Says" (New York Times)

"US Scientists Discover New, Giant Deep Sea Oil Plume in the Gulf of Mexico" (AP)

"Giant Oil Plume Found Below Surface Of Gulf" (NPR)

Source: AP, 08/20/2010