Leslie Patton
August 13, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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The Gulf of Mexico faces a renewed and enlarged threat to marine life: a low-oxygen “dead zone” about the size of Massachusetts, caused by chemical runoff into the Mississippi River that flows into the sea.

The dead zone, which occurs in Gulf waters in summer and is unrelated to BP Plc’s oil spill, covers an area twice as large as last year, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study released this week. The low-oxygen area this year is the fifth-largest since measurements began in 1985.

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Aside from the dead zone, where shrimp and other sea life can’t survive, and the BP spill that dumped an estimated 4.1 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf, there’s a looming threat of hurricanes. Meteorologists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center say a warming of the Atlantic indicates the storm season could be one of the most active on record.

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