Bill Lehr, a senior scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), appeared before Congress and said: “I would say most of that [the oil] is still in the environment.”
But just two weeks ago he said in an official report the majority of the crude that leaked out from the 20 April Macondo well disaster, that killed 11, had been captured or been broken down by the sea.
Lehr, appearing before the House energy and commerce committee, now says of the 4.1m barrels that leaked in to the Gulf, only six per cent has been burned off and four per cent has been skimmed. He could not be confident of numbers for the amount collected from beaches, he said.
The government scientist’s u-turn will deepen a sense of outrage in the scientific community that the White House is hiding data and spinning the science of the oil spill.