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Rep rebukes BP chief for denying existence of oil plumes

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, May 31, 2010 22:53 EDT
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British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward has lost a lot of credibility since one of his company’s drilling rigs exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico.

Unfortunately for he and everyone at BP, Hayward just lost a bit more.

Yesterday, Hayward claimed there are actually not any massive plumes of oil spreading deep below the Gulf’s waves, asserting that all the oil had risen to the surface. He failed to cite any evidence to support the claim.

This angered Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), who challenged on Monday the CEO’s version of reality, goading him to produce evidence that contradicts studies conducted by numerous scientists.

“BP in this instance means ‘Blind to Plumes,’” he said, according to CNN.

The Associated Press noted that claims of oil plumes were based on research conducted by “the University of South Florida, the University of Georgia, Southern Mississippi University and other institutions,” all of which independently confirmed the underwater clouds of oil.

At the University of Georgia, scientists have established a Gulf oil blog to help the public track their latest findings. The very day that BP’s CEO claimed there were no oil plumes, Dr. Samantha Joye reported their team had seen one with their own eyes.

“One of the strangest things about these deepwater plumes we’ve been tracking is that we see a strong CDOM signal but there’s been no visible oil in the deepwater,” she wrote. “That changed today: we saw oil in the deepwater.”

“We sampled a station about a mile south of our previous stations (you can get our position and our ship track on www.marinetraffic.com, just look for the R/V Walton Smith in the Gulf of Mexico sector) and we saw the most intense CDOM signals that we’ve seen so far.”

The team took samples of the plume from under and above, and two from within. Their conclusion is undeniable and supported by independent research.

BP did not immediately respond to Rep. Markey’s criticism.

The oil giant has in recent days been under fire for allegedly strangling off access to credible information on the oil gusher. Not only did BP delay release of video showing the gusher at the sea floor, they lied to media in explaining why. More recently, the company tried to explain away a rash of cleanup worker illnesses which many believe were caused by exposure to fumes from the toxic oil dispersant BP is dumping into the Gulf by the hundreds of thousands of gallons. While the dispersant is said to be worse than oil, BP’s CEO suggested to reporters that workers had suffered food poisoning.

The oil plumes that Hayward denies exist stretch numerous miles in length and width, with one in particular cited as 22-miles long and some six-miles wide. The same thing happened after a Mexican well ruptured in 1979 in just 200 feet of water, resulting in the second worst oil spill in human history.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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