Edward B. Overton

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Edward B. Overton is an environmental chemist and professor emeritus at Louisiana State University (LSU). His areas of specialization include analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, coastal zone spill response & related chemical analysis, chemical hazard assessments, and emergency response.[1] He is frequently cited in the media as an expert on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and he testified at the August 4, 2010 Senate Hearing on Oil Dispersants. However, LSU was the recipient of a $5 million grant from BP, the company responsible for the spill, "to support research geared toward expanding scientific understanding of oil spills and their ecological impact."[2] BP pledged another $5 million over the 10 years following the spill "to support spill-related research." Additionally, Overton is the recipient of a five year $1.3 million grant for research on "Chemical Hazard Assessment for Marine Spills" from NOAA's Hazardous Materials Response and Restoration Division.[3] He also served on Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal's transition team.[4] Overton has said that he thinks the U.S. government should pay for oil spill research using oil royalties, instead of forcing the oil industry to pay for researching the impact of spills they cause.[5]

Overton's Rosy View of the Oil Spill

In August 2010, Overton said of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:[6] "The Gulf is incredible in its resiliency and ability to clean itself up. I think we are going to be flabbergasted by the little amount of damage that has been caused by this spill." Additionally, he agreed with BP's assessment of underwater oil plumes (and disagreed with other scientists), concluding that because oil is lighter than water, the plumes will not persist for long as the oil will float to the surface.[7] He has also stated that the use of chemical oil dispersants was a success in saving the Gulf coastline from most of the oil.[8]

Is 75 Percent of the Oil Gone?

When the Obama administration came out with statements (based on a NOAA report) that 75% of the oil from the spill was captured, burned, dispersed, evaporated, degraded or dissolved in the water, Overton disagreed with a number of independent scientists by calling the government's assessment "close to being on the mark," adding, "Personally I think things are going in the right direction very, very quickly."[9] However, in another interview, he estimated the NOAA report's margin of error as up to 30 percent.[10] Overton was one of the scientists NOAA consulted with on the report.[11]

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References

  1. Louisiana Sea Grant Experts
  2. Louisiana State University, "LSUʼs Response to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill", 2010.
  3. Edward B. Overton, Ph.D.
  4. Edward B. Overton, Ph.D.
  5. "Should U.S. oil royalties pay for studies of BP spill’s environmental impact?", Reuters, August 9, 2010, Accessed August 21, 2010.
  6. "Scientists: 79% of oil spill still 'lurks in the deep'", Digital Journal, August 18, 2010, Accessed August 21, 2010.
  7. "BP disputes existence of underwater oil plumes", USA Today, May 31, 2010, Accessed August 21, 2010.
  8. "Scientists For and Against BP’s Use of Dispersant", August 6, 2010, Accessed August 21, 2010.
  9. John Collins Rudolph, "Scientists Tussle Over Gulf Oil Tally", New York Times, August 17, 2010, Accessed August 21, 2010.
  10. Aimee Miles, "Scientists wary of U.S. report that says only 26 percent of spilled Gulf oil left ", New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 17, 2010, Accessed August 21, 2010.
  11. Aimee Miles, "Scientists wary of U.S. report that says only 26 percent of spilled Gulf oil left ", New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 17, 2010, Accessed August 21, 2010.

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