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      07-05-2010, 09:47 PM   #32
GreenPlease
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Do you have any idea how long this cleanup will take? It is still spewing thousands of barrels into the gulf every day and you're talking like next spring everything will be back to normal.
Assuming the relief well works (and I firmly believe that it will) things should be back to normal by next spring. A few things to know:

-the gulf of mexico has naturally occurring oil leaks practically everywhere. The total outflow from these leaks is between 560k-1.4mbpy. The deepwater horizon spill will probably increase this by ~600% for the year. Link:
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6552

-in the early 90s, there was a blowout in the North Sea of a similar magnitude to the DWH. Response crews lined up on the beaches but... they never found any oil. Not a drop. This was because the very rough surface conditions in the North Sea broke up the resulting slick/slicks. (this is also documented over on The Oil Drum but I'm having trouble finding the link)

-Oil breaks up naturally. Light and volatile hydrocarbons naturally evaporate out of the crude. The heavier stuff is broken down by methanogens (an archaea), various bacteria, and light. This is the same process by which asphalt (similar to bitumen in the canadian tar sands) is broken down over time. This takes a lot of time, obviously, but it is aided by increasing the surface area of the oil exposed to air and light.

-Naturally occurring hurricanes and thunderstorms in the gulf will aid in spreading the oil about and thus increasing the rate at which the oil breaks down.


So, in short, by spring of next year 95+% of the oil should be gone. Sure, you'll be able to find a random tar ball here and there and perhaps a random piece of wetland that is particularly worse for the wear but, if we institute a fishing ban between now and next spring, we may be surprised by how quickly mother nature recovers.

My sympathies go out to all of you affected by the spill.

Edit: if you are looking for good information/analysis on the spill, or anything petroleum/energy related, I highly suggest you head over to http://www.theoildrum.com They're very professional and very knowledgeable over there.
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