NOAA: Impact of Gulf oil spill to linger for decades

NOAA: Impact of Gulf oil spill to linger for decades

Credit: AP

NOAA: Impact of Gulf oil spill to linger for decades

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Associated Press

Posted on August 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 4 at 2:59 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A top government scientist says the impact of the Gulf oil spill on wildlife is likely to linger for decades.

Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, made the comment Wednesday even as the Obama administration was citing a federal report that only about a quarter of the spilled oil remains in the Gulf of Mexico.

She said that oil has already had an impact on wildlife -- and will continue to do so for "years and possibly decades to come."

Lubchenco cited as an example bluefin tuna, which she said spawn this time of year. She said that eggs and larvae exposed to oil "probably would have died" or been significantly affected.

A new federal report indicates that only about a quarter of the spilled oil remains in the Gulf and is degrading quickly, with the rest having been contained, cleaned up or having disappeared.

There had been fears that the massive spill could reach South Florida and the East Coast through a powerful loop current, but the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that enough oil has been removed or evaporated to eliminate those fears.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the threat to the East Coast and other worst-case scenarios feared by many at the beginning of the crisis now appear unlikely.

"I think it is fairly safe to say that because of the environmental effects of Mother Nature, the warmer waters of the Gulf and the federal response, that many of the doomsday scenarios that we talked about and repeated a lot have not and will not come to fruition," Gibbs said, calling that "very good news."

Still, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco cautioned that the remaining oil -- much of it below the surface -- remains a threat to aquatic life and Gulf Coast marshes. Just because the oil is diluted and largely out of sight "doesn't necessarily mean (it is) benign," Lubchenco said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

 

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