Frustrated with limited data on the BP oil gusher, a group of independent scientists has proposed a large experiment that would give a clearer understanding of where the oil and gas are going and where they'll do the most damage.
The scientists say their mission must be undertaken immediately, before BP kills the runaway well. They propose using what's probably the world's worst oil accident to learn how crude oil and natural gas move through water when they're released at high volumes from the deep sea.
The scientists also want to see how the oil breaks down into toxic and safer components in different ocean conditions, information that would help predict which ocean species are most at risk. The experiment also could provide data that would help in dealing with any future spills.
"Without this understanding, we're no better off when the next one occurs," said Ira Leifer, a researcher at the Marine Science Institute of the University of California at Santa Barbara who's leading the team that's proposed the experiment.