Five years on, Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact lingers | Science News



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Five years on, Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact lingers

Anniversary of a disaster in the Gulf of Mexico shows much remains murky

12:00pm, April 3, 2015
Exploding Oil Rig

THE AFTERMATH  Deepwater Horizon's fifth anniversary is greeted with more questions than answers.

In a steamy Louisiana marsh, crickets do their best impersonation of a canary in a coal mine.

Afloat in orange cages on the coastal wetland, the featherless chirpers warn researchers of toxic fumes rising from oil. Oozing oil is a recurring yet elusive problem on the marsh in Barataria Bay, just south of New Orleans. One day, a patch of the wetland is green and lush, the next it’s drenched in thick, noxious goo. It’s a haunting vestige of North America’s largest marine oil disaster: the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

At first, the possibility that the oil was still surfacing and releasing killer vapors years after the spill seemed far-fetched; everything scientists know about spills suggests that fuming oil would have vanished almost immediately after the oil was released. But the Louisiana crickets are quietly telling a different story. They’re dying.

“It’s this huge mystery,” says environmental scientist

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