The effects of the oil spill may be worse than originally anticipated, according to two reports published Tuesday.
The first report from the Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia indicates that 80% of the oil from the well has not been removed from the ocean. The second report from the University of South Florida states that oil from the spill has potentially settled on the bottom of the ocean floor further east than expected, at levels that are toxic to marine life.
The studies contradict earlier reports that state that only 2 percent of the spilled oil remains in the water. According to Charles Hopkinson, director of Georgia Sea Grant, many believe that the dissolved oil is harmless, but this isn’t true. He said it would take years for the oil to degrade.
The reports come at an inauspicious time. Several state fishing restrictions have just been lifted, and shrimping season has just begun.
Meanwhile, the efforts to plug the well permanently have been delayed. BP says that it may be September before it is plugged for good. BP managed to stop the massive leak, estimated 4.9 million barrels, with a temporary plug on July 15th.
The spill, considered the worst in U.S history, affected fisherman around the gulf as restrictions were placed due to safety issues. With the most recent temporary plug completely halting the flow, many of the restrictions are being lifted. But many fishermen remain cautious. Some fear there will still be signs of oil in the catch.