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A new chemical plume from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has been found in the Gulf of Mexico. The plume is 35 kilometers long, and over 900 meters below the surface. This shows that even deep sea ecosystems have not escaped the disaster.
The BP oil spill is proving worse than expected.
Analysis shows the newly-detected chemical plume contains a cocktail of petroleum hydrocarbons and is not the result of a natural oil seep.
Scientists say it will take months to identify the full list of chemicals.
Dr. Christopher Reddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said, "And at that point, we may be able to see whether it's a penny in a very big checkbook, I mean a checking account, or maybe it's bigger."
The scientists did not find "dead zones" within the plume, which means fish or other marine animals have the chance to survive.
But this also means bacteria are breaking down the chemicals more slowly than expected.
Dr. Christopher Reddy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said, "It's easy to generalize and say microbes are going to clean house and we can walk away. What I would say is that microbes are a tool in the tool box of nature's cleanup team. Where and when they turn on and decide to do a good job will probably play out with time."
Unlike polluted surface water, samples from the plume were clear and had no oil odor. But this does not mean it is not harmful to the environment.
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