Gulf Oil Full of Methane, Adding New Concerns

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A scientist says the crude oil isn't the only dangerous thing gushing from a blown out Gulf of Mexico well.

John Kessler of Texas A&M says vast amounts of methane are spewing from the well and could pose a serious threat to the ecosystem. Scientists say the gas has the potential for suffocating marine life.

Kessler says the oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane - compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits.

Scientists say that means huge quantities of the methane have entered the Gulf.

Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in the natural gas used to heat people's homes.

A BP spokesman says about 30 million cubic feet of natural gas is burned daily from the leak. But that doesn't account for gas that eludes containment efforts.

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