[author: Chris Paul]
In the year following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, research scientists have concluded that all methane from the spill was metabolized by bacteria, resulting in essentially no release of the greenhouse gas to the atmosphere, according to Paul Sandifer, senior science adviser to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). About 40 percent of surface oil spewed from the Macondo well evaporated within two days, according to Sandifer. But researchers found evidence of genetic damage in fish, contamination of beaches, toxicity issues in microbial and plankton, and injuries to coral that appear to be from contact with subsurface oil, he said. There also appears to be an increased incidence of disease among fisherman and oil spill response workers, because of “impacts to both physical and mental health, a story yet to be completed,” Sandifer said.