How did five million barrels of oil simply disappear?

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs points to a pie chart on the BP oil spill during the Daily White House Press Briefing, Washington, DC.

AFP/ Getty Images

OK there you go -- Only about 26% Residual Oil is left.

"Residual" -- that's like "smoke" -- like the Morning Fog.

That doesn't sound so bad. ... It should be gone in No Time, right?

Don't bet on it.

Even NOAA Administrator, Jane Lubchenco, still has some concerns ...

Scientists: Most oil gone from Gulf spill
By Steve Gelsi - Market Pulse, MarketWatch.com -- Aug. 4, 2010

A team of scientsts from the federal government said Wednesday that most of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that came from the Deepwater Horizion accident and the ruptured Macondo well has been collected, evaporated or dispersed. The team, led by the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said

burning, skimming and direct recovery from the wellhead removed 33% of the oil;

about 25% of the oil evaporated or dissolved,

and 16% was dispersed into microscopic droplets.

The rest of the oil, about 26%, is either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls. "Less oil on the surface does not mean that there isn't oil still in the water column or that our beaches and marshes aren't still at risk," said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

And what does that risk of "oil still in the water column or that our beaches and marshes" really mean, to the locals, who must fish those waters, to make their living?

But Science is Science, right?  ... Facts is Facts.

Well it turns out there are some Science Reports, that are more "authoritative" than others.  And others, apparently read more like a Press Release:

Looking for the oil? US claims it's mostly gone
TodayOnline.com Aug 06, 2010

But the amount of oil left is almost five times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989. And National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Ms Jane Lubchenco stressed that scientists will not be able to determine for a long time the full extent of the damage. The problem, she explained, is that oil is toxic even when it has been broken down into small droplets.

The author of the report, NOAA scientist Bill Lehr, said the calculations are based on direct measurements of a small fraction of the oil spilled and "educated scientific guesses". That's what worries some outside scientists. "This is a shaky report ... There's some science here, but mostly, it's spin," said Florida State University oceanography professor Ian MacDonald."

I wonder if that is what they mean by getting your Science Report, "peer reviewed"?

The Scientist "peer review" continues, even though the Media interest is waning ...

Scientists call new gulf spill report 'ludicrous'
news.oneindia.in -- August 6, 2010

Washington, Aug 6 (ANI): Scientists have labelled the new U.S. government report that claims it has taken care of the gulf oil spill as 'ludicrous'.

Experts are also warning that majority of the oil is trapped under Gulf beaches and could remain there for years.
But scientists argue that fluid nature of the ocean means that it's "exceedingly hard" to track oil.

According to National Geographic News, to University of South Florida chemical oceanographer David Hollander, the NOAA estimates are "ludicrous."

"It's almost comical," he said.

Hollander said that while 25 percent can be accounted for (by burning, skimming etc), 75 percent is still unaccounted for.

For instance, the report considers all submerged oil to be dispersed and therefore not harmful, but that's not the case.

The mixture of oil and chemical dispersants may be suspended and preserved, causing long-term problems for deep-sea animals, said Texas Tech University ecotoxicologist Ron Kendall.

"75 percent is still unaccounted for"

NOAA report on Gulf oil spill draws criticism for many assumptions
Ryan Witt, Political Buzz Examiner -- August 5, 2010

Even with that cautionary note, many experts immediately questioned the findings.  The amount of oil captured is relatively definitive number which can be confirmed, but the amount of oil dispersed, burned or naturally degraded all involves some guesswork.  

The report gave no detail on how officials determined the amount of oil that evaporated or that was dispersed in the Gulf.  The report assumed that underwater plumes of oil simply do not exist, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.  

Time quotes Florida State University oceanography professor Ian MacDonald as saying, "This is a shaky report. The more I read it, the less satisfied I am with the thoroughness of the presentation.  There are sweeping assumptions here."  Even one of the scientists cited in the report said he was uncomfortable with putting definitive percentages on the amount of oil left in the Gulf.

"The report gave no detail on how officials determined ... There are sweeping assumptions here."

Gulf oil spill: White House accused of spinning report

Scientists say it is 'just not true' that the vast majority of oil from the BP spill has gone
guardian.co.uk, August 5, 2010
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent

White House officials had painted far too optimistic a picture of a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) into the fate of the oil.

"Recent reports seem to say that about 75% of the oil is taken care of and that is just not true," said John Kessler, of Texas A&M University, who led a National Science Foundation on-site study of the spill. "The fact is that 50% to 75% of the material that came out of the well is still in the water. It's just in a dissolved or dispersed form."

50% to 75% ... is still in the water ... It's just in a dissolved or dispersed form.

The oil has gone? Tell that to Gulf coast residents
By Rupert Cornwell, independent.co.uk -- 6 August 2010

And though only a quarter of the 4.9m barrels reckoned to have leaked is still unaccounted, that represents the equivalent of five Exxon Valdez, the tanker whose spill caused an environmental catastrophe in Alaska in 1989.

"There are still boats out there every day working, finding turtles with oil on them and seeing grass lines with oil in it," charter boat captain Randy Boggs, of Orange Beach in Alabama, told the Associated Press. "All the oil isn't accounted for. There are millions of pounds of tar balls and oil on the bottom."

Even if you take the Official Numbers at face value --

That mean 5 TIMES the Exxon Valdez spill


How that qualifies as "mostly gone" is beyond me --

I guess that means, it could've been worse.

Well geesh, as with most problems, isn't that usually the case?

It could've been worse ... Let's thank our Lucky Stars!

Maybe there's a consolation Prize, for Gulf Residents, eh?

Since they are apparently -- Now "Mostly Unaffected" ?

[Note:  All emphasis, and witless observations expressed above, are only those of the author, and not the sources cited.]

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Originally posted to Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. on Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 08:14 AM PDT.

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