SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab continued its speaker series marking five years after the BP oil spill with a discussion about the oil itself and the dispersants used to clean it up.
Those were the topics and questions Dr. Vernon Asper, who is a USM professor of marine sciences, addressed before a curious audience Monday. He also shared his personal findings over the past five years.
"We're looking at what happens to the oil after it gets to the sea floor, and sometimes, what happens as it gets stirred up by a current and then it gets moved to another place and then dropped. So, we're trying to trace it, track it from one place to the other," said Asper.
Asper shared slides, pictures and videos of the research he and his team have been doing on the oil that now lies below the surface.
"How does it get from the surface to the bottom, and how do we measure how fast it gets from the surface to the bottom? Then, once it gets to the bottom, what happens to it, and how do we monitor what happens to it," said Asper.
In 2010, we talked to Asper, who told us he was on the fence about the use of dispersants. So, does he still feel that way?
"I'm still on the fence. I could see why you would want to use dispersants. There are a lot of advantages, but the disadvantage is that they result in some residual compounds," said Asper.
Asper talked little about the actual dispersants used to break down the oil, saying that they really are not his expertise. However, he does hope to see better options for dispersants available in the future.
"I think the ultimate would be if we could develop dispersants that work really well, but don't leave any harmful residuals," said Asper.
Asper says there is about three years of funding left from the money BP donated to study the long term effects of the spill.