Nearly 80 percent of Gulf spill oil still in water: experts

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Nearly 80 percent of the oil spilled from a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico is still in the gulf, US scientists estimated Tuesday, challenging a more optimistic assessment by the US government earlier in the month.

In its August 4 report, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration found that half the 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled by the April 20 blowout had been evaporated, burned, skimmed or dispersed.

A team of five scientists from the University of Georgia did their own analysis of the government data and came to a different conclusion.

"We just reanalyzed this report...and then we calculated how much oil is still likely to be out there and that is how we came up to 70 to 79 percent that must be out there," said Charles Hopkinson, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia.

"One major misconception is that oil that has dissolved into water is gone and therefore, harmless," he told AFP.

"The oil is still out there and it will likely take years to completely degrade. We are still far from a complete understanding of what its impacts are," he said.

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