Gulf of Mexico oil spill researchers report trouble getting samples
One of the ironies facing researchers into the consequences of the BP oil spill is that they can’t get their hands on adequate samples of the Louisiana sweet crude that was in all too obvious abundance during the disaster. In his testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee last week, LSU scientist Fernando Galvez said that some research into the impact of the spill on fish in the Gulf of Mexico has been stymied by the lack of samples of the crude.
“It has been exceedingly difficult for researchers to obtain Louisiana sweet crude from Mississippi Canyon 252 or even comparable surrogate oil, for toxicity testing under controlled laboratory conditions,” Galvez told the committee, complaining that BP had not been very helpful. “As an example, my colleague, Dr. Andrew Whitehead, received a letter from BP confirming that shipment of surrogate crude had been approved, and would be arriving soon,” Galvez said. “Seven months later, his group still has no oil, putting this federally funded research in serious jeopardy.”
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the committee, said: “BP is more concerned with its own bottom line than what’s going on in the bottom of the ocean. Their unwillingness to provide you and other scientists with information you need to do these studies is a further indication of BP’s unwillingness to cooperate with what should be a historic investigation to find out what’s going on in the Gulf of Mexico.”
A BP spokesman said the company is committed to promoting scientific understanding of the spill’s impact, has committed $500 million to research by independent experts and has made every effort to provide researchers with sample material while also meeting evidence-preservation requirements imposed by the court in the multidistrict litigation.
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