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The 2010 BP oil spill may have disrupted the Gulf of Mexico food chain, according to the findings of a study conducted by Alabama-based researchers.

Specifically, the study indicates the combination of oil and chemical dispersants may have a devastating effect on plankton, tiny organisms that provide food for aquatic life ranging from small fish to whales. Over a span of nearly three months, approximately 200 million gallons of oil seeped into the Gulf of Mexico; BP’s clean-up efforts used almost 2 million gallons of chemical dispersants to break the oil patches into droplets.

Researchers sought to replicate the effects of the oil spill by pumping seawater into 53-gallon drums, to which they added oil and/or dispersants in amounts proportionate to those found during and after the oil spill. They found that various forms of plankton grew under an oil slick but that those numbers decreased significantly in drums with dispersants or dispersant-treated oil. Researchers also found that bacteria flourished in the drums with dispersants or dispersed oil.

In a July 31 Associated Press article on the study—the results of which were published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE—lead researcher Alice Ortmann of the University of South Alabama said, “In those tanks, all of the energy seems to get trapped on the bacterial side. There were lots of bacteria left but no bigger things. It’s like the middle part of the food web is taken away.”

As the ecological impacts of the oil spill continue to unfold, the Mobile, Alabama, attorneys at Long & Long continue to investigate claims related to the disaster’s effects on businesses, property owners and boaters who participated in BP’s Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program.

In relation to the preliminary settlement agreement stemming from the consolidated lawsuits over the oil spill, the Alabama lawyers at Long & Long are evaluating cases related to:

Time to join the settlement is limited. Please contact Long & Long for a free case consultation today if you suffered income loss or property damage as a result of the oil spill, or if you were not compensated for your role in the VOO program.

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