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ROBERT, La. – A massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has become the testing ground for a new technique where a potent mix of chemicals is shot deep undersea in an effort to stop oil from reaching the surface, and scientists are hurriedly weighing the ecological risks and benefits.
Crews battling the spill already have dropped more than 156,000 gallons of the concoction — a mix of chemicals collectively known as "dispersant" — to try to break up the oozing oil, allowing it to decompose more quickly or evaporate before washing ashore.
The technique has been undergone two tests in recent days that the U.S. Coast Guard is calling promising, and there are plans to apply even more of the chemicals. But the effect of this largely untested treatment is still being studied by numerous federal agencies, and needs approval from a number of them before it can be rolled out in a larger way.