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Still Waters

Mexico oil spill: fresh questions raised

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A large undersea cloud of dissolved hydrocarbons discovered this week near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has raised fresh questions about toxic chemicals used to fight the spill and their environmental impact.

David Hollander, a University of South Florida oceanographer, headed a research team that discovered the six-mile (10-km) wide "oil cloud" while on a government-funded expedition aboard the Weatherbird II, a vessel operated by the university's College of Marine Science.

"We were collecting samples down to two miles (3 km) below the surface," he said.

"The plume or the cloud of dissolved hydrocarbons in the water was discovered northeast of the wellhead, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) to the northeast," he said.

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