Feds: Oil dispersant worked better than thought

Controversial chemicals helped break up about 16 percent of the Gulf oil spill -- twice as much as August estimate

By Seth Borenstein
Published November 23, 2010 8:03PM (EST)

The federal government now figures that oil dispersants did a better job of breaking up the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico than it first calculated.

A new analysis released Tuesday says the controversial chemicals helped break up about 32 million gallons of oil -- about 16 percent of the spill. That's about twice as much as a federal team figured in August. Scientists say that is mostly due to the unusual method of injecting the chemicals so deep, about a mile down near the busted well.

Study author Bill Lehr (LAYR) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says injecting the chemicals a mile deep proved to be roughly four times more effective per gallon of oil as spraying the chemical on the ocean's surface.

Seth Borenstein

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Gulf Oil Spill