While federal officials fail to acknowledge the problem, the situation in the Gulf worsens by the day. "It's deja vu all over again, in the very worst way," says Smith. "We have fresh oil surfacing again at the Deepwater Horizon site.'
Through rigorous "fingerprint" testing, Louisiana State University (LSU) chemist Ed Overton confirmed that slicks sweeping across the Macondo Prospect since mid-August are made up of BP oil. "It is a dead-ringer match," Professor Overton said. "I was amazed that the ratios matched as good as they did."
Based on lab-certified test results of oil samples taken last month on Horn Island – a narrow strip of federally protected land just 12 mi off the Mississippi coast –researchers believe that fresh BP oil from the Macondo Prospect has made landfall more than 100 mi north of its origin.
"These lab results provide more evidence that the Macondo Prospect is still leaking," says civil engineer Marco Kaltofen. "The data show that the Horn Island sample taken on September 20th contains lighter hydrocarbons that normally degrade quickly. This oil looks like the original BP oil fingerprint from last summer. It's very fresh and very toxic."