Surface sediment samples were collected from five platforms in the Gulf of Mexico during the Gulf of Mexico Offshore Operations Monitoring Experiment (GOOMEX), a Minerals Management Service funded study, and analyzed for total mercury. While this study was reported in 1995, new interest in the report was sparked by several newspaper articles using the results to link mercury in drilling discharges with mercury in fish. As part of the study program, sediment samples were collected from near the platform and far from the platform. Total mercury ranged from not detected to 3.5 parts per million in the sediments. The highest values were from near a single platform where discharges are shunted to within ten meters from the bottom. Tissue samples, including shrimp, crabs, fish livers, and fish stomach contents, were also collected as part of the project and analyzed for total mercury. Statistical comparison of the results indicated that the samples did not differ significantly between near field and far field. This presentation includes a background discussion of the issue of mercury as a global pollutant and puts into perspective the contribution from oil and gas activities around platforms.

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