As BP pays billions in settlements, scientists are concerned about a persistent oil seep near the Macondo 252 well.New Orleans, LA – As BP settles out of court for the first phase of thousands of lawsuits that could cost the company tens of billions of dollars, Al Jazeera has spotted a large oil sheen near the infamous Macondo 252 well.
In September 2011, Al Jazeera spotted a large swath of silvery oil sheen located roughly 19km northeast of the now-capped well.
But now, on February 29, Al Jazeera conducted another over-flight of the area and found a larger area of sea covered in oil sheen in the same location.
Oil trackers with the organisation On Wings of Care, who have been monitoring the new oil since mid-August 2011, have for months found rainbow-tinted slicks and thick silvery globs of oil consistently visible in the area.
“This is the same crescent shaped area of oil and sheen I’ve been seeing here since the middle of last August,” Bonny Schumaker, president and pilot of On Wings of Care, told Al Jazeera while flying over the oil.
Schumaker has logged approximately 500 hours of flight time monitoring the area around the Macondo well, and has flown scientists from NASA, the US Geological Survey (USGS), and oil chemistry scientists to observe conditions resulting from BP’s oil disaster that began in April 2010.
When Al Jazeera flew to the area on September 11, 2011, the oil sheen was approximately 25km long and 10 to 50 metres wide, at a location roughly 19km northeast of the Macondo 252 well.
On the recent over flight, the area covered in oil sheen was approximately 35km long, and ranged from 20 to 100 metres wide in approximately the same location. At times, fumes from the oil filled the aircraft, even at an altitude of 350 metres.
Shumaker, a career physicist with NASA who retired in 2011, is deeply concerned because she has spotted oil in the same location now at least 15 times since last August.