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Gulf of Mexico--a soon-coming Dead Zone from the natural gas leaking

May 20, 2010

Last week the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico surpassed the disaster of the Exxon Valdez back in 1989.

But few understand about the natural gas that is leaking into the Gulf waters along with the oil. The oil is more visible, of course, so it gets more attention. The gas leak, however, may be even worse in the long run.

Most of the gas never makes it to the surface. At extreme depths and temperatures, it dissolves into the sea water as carbon dioxide. This depletes the level of oxygen in the water and kills virtually all marine life. This threatens to make the entire Gulf into a Dead Zone for decades to come.

Reports say that the gas-to-oil ratio was at 3000:1 before the explosion, or 3000 cubic feet of gas for every barrel of oil. Most outside scientists now believe that BP's estimate of 5000 barrels of oil per day spewing into the Gulf is not at all realistic. It is much higher, they say. Whatever the figure is, multiply it by 3000 and you get the volume of natural gas being leaked.

The fishermen of Louisiana (and Cuba) had better start looking for a new line of work. If you have stock in BP or Haliburton, you could soon be part of the Dead Zone.

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Dr. Stephen Jones

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