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Lessons learned from the BP oil spill


The BP oil spill is one of the largest accidental oil spills in history (courtesy: Patrick Kelley)
The BP oil spill is one of the largest accidental oil spills in history (courtesy: Patrick Kelley)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

December 7, 2012 — Numerous studies were conducted during the devastating BP oil spill in May, 2010. Now, that research is providing new insight into the nature of oil spills, and how to prevent them from happening in the future.

Bright and dark patches in the water represent oil in the Mississippi Delta in May, 2010 (courtesy: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response)
Bright and dark patches in the water represent oil in the Mississippi Delta in May, 2010 (courtesy: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response)

A collection of 15 studies about the BP oil spill have provided researchers with a "behind-the-scenes" look into one of the largest accidental oil spills in history.

Two and a half years later, it has been demonstrated that almost 200,000 tons of the oil that was spewed into the ocean during the three month spill has been consumed by bacteria, suggesting that at least some of the waste from an oil spill can be cleared away naturally, without the use of potentially harmful chemicals.

Other papers outline future oil spill and preparedness and prevention techniques.

Topics like the engineering tactics employed to stop the oil spill, as well as the economic impact of the disaster, have also been covered.

The 15 papers have been included in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a prestigious scientific journal.   

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, said during a press briefing that the "scale and complexity" of the BP oil spill was taxing on response organizations.

“We learned much during this extraordinary disaster and we hope the lessons learned will be implemented before and used during any future events,” she added.

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