Almost five months to the day after an offshore oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers on board and spewing 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has finally announced that the well is sealed for good. The company managed to stem the flow of oil in July with a temporary cap, and efforts had been underway since then to engineer a permanent solution to the damaged well.
The spill badly damaged the local economy, mostly in the seafood and tourism sectors. But, the way in which the spill is going to effect the environment is yet to be understood. One quarter of the spilled oil was skimmed from the surface of the Gulf, one quarter evaporated and another quarter manifested itself in the form of a sheen that flowed out to the ocean or as tar balls.
The last remaining quarter is the oil that was dispersed with chemical solvents, which is now referred to as ‘atomized’ oil. This last group is one that scientists don’t yet fully understand, and it’s still pooled in the Gulf in underwater clouds. It may be years before a scientific consensus on the atomized oil emerges.