Oil and an oil sheen covering several square miles of water are surfacing near the site of last year's BP Macondo Well disaster, prompting concerns that the well might not be plugged as Tropical Storm Lee gains strength, Al Jazeera said in a special report on Friday.
The possibility that the well might once again be spewing crude oil into the waters of the Gulf is particularly worrisome to meteorologists following Lee in the Gulf. Such storms could disperse the oil.
The Macondo Well in the Gulf of Mexico caused the worst environmental disaster in American history. The oil slick is clearly visible on the water near the site, according to oil trackers with the organization On Wings of Care who have been monitoring the oil since early August.
BP and NOAA [National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration] have had all these ships out there doing grid searches looking at things, so hopefully now they'll take a look at this, Bonny Schumaker, president and pilot of On Wings of Care, told Al Jazeera's Dahr Jamail.
Schumaker has logged 500 hours of flight time monitoring the area around the Macondo well for oil. She told Al Jazeera that during her Aug. 30 overflight of the area we saw the slick cover roughly 10 miles in one direction and four miles in another.
Schumaker has flown scientists from NASA, USGS, and oil chemistry scientists to observe conditions resulting from BP's oil disaster that began in April 2010. BP, whose Macondo well gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank to the bottom, has denied that the oil is coming from their well, according to Al Jazeera.
On Aug. 18 reports surfaced that a large swath of oil sheen was reported near the site of last year's oil disaster. BP officials, in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, deployed two submersibles to investigate the site. BP told Al Jazeera that their visual inspection confirmed there wasn't any oil released from the Macondo well, and that it observed bubbles from cement ports near the site of some of its Gulf wells.
These observations are consistent with testing and sampling performed last year that detected nitrogen bubbles, a residual byproduct of the nitrified foam used in setting the wells' surface casing cement, the company said in a statement.