LSU professor believes oil sightings may not be oil
Posted on AL.com on 5/10/2011
LSU's Ed Overton flew over the Chandeleur Islands and the Mississippi Delta on Sunday and said despite news reports of beached oil in the area he saw little evidence of oil that had come ashore. He was provided samples by ABC news of an unusual material which he said "were definitely not petroleum" and he speculated that the material may have been biological in nature. The material was a pinkish red shade when collected, Overton said, but later turned gray which indicates something biological. Overton further states "They were sure it was dispersed oil, but it was not even close. I'm 95 percent certain that many of the things being reported are natural processes." He said laboratory analysis was the only way to know for sure, and that takes time.
Regarding the tar clumps that washed ashore on Dauphin Island (an island west of Mobile Bay) over the weekend, Overton believes these may have come from the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded and sank but probably are not from the current wellhead. He said the oil from the wellhead has likely not had time to transform into tar balls during the three weeks since the rig sank.
"There are lots of other things people are mistakenly calling oil out there. But a lot of it has none of the characteristics," Overton said. "The exact same thing happened in Alaska. People see rip lines with natural sheens. I've seen them in Mobile Bay. Normally you don't pay any attention ... but now everybody thinks everything is oil."