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BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico far from over, experts warn

Posted on 23 April 2012
Two years after the worst maritime oil spill in history, fishermen, scientists, and environmentalists up and down the US Gulf Coast warn that the disaster may be far from over.

Dead dolphins keep washing up on shore in unprecedented numbers.

Oil-coated coral reefs are dying in the deepwater.

Eyeless shrimp and crabs with holes in their shells are showing up in relatively empty fishing nets while killifish, a minnow-like fish at the base of the food chain, show signs of chemical poisoning.

And critics say offshore drilling safety and oversight remains woefully lacking.

"Politics continues to triumph over common sense. It's outrageous that so little progress has been made to make offshore drilling safer," said Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director at the environmental group Oceana.

"It's not a matter of whether there will be another oil spill, but when."

The April 20, 2010 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers, blackened beaches in five US states and devastated the Gulf Coast's tourism and fishing industries.

It took 87 days to cap BP's runaway well 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) below the surface that spewed some 4.9 million barrels (206 million gallons) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In an attempt to keep the crude from Louisiana's fragile coastal wetlands, BP sprayed chemical dispersants directly into the underwater gusher and onto the massive slick.

Critics say however the dispersants made it harder to remove the oil from the ecosystem and created a dangerous chemical soup that was sent deeper into the food chain.

"The oil is still subsurface in the Gulf," said Wilma Subra, a respected chemist and activist who has been testing seafood and sediment samples collected across the Gulf Coast.

"The oil is still present in the wetlands and estuaries and on the beaches. People are continuing to get exposed."

Despite BP's public assertions that the Gulf is on the mend, Subra and other scientists insist it is far too soon to determine what the long-term environmental impacts will be.

"There are potential new impacts that we haven't even seen yet, but just based on the impacts we have seen it's going to be a long time before recovery sets in," Subra said, adding that the effects of the spill could continue for "generations."

BP has vowed to make residents of the Gulf "whole" and reimburse them for any "legitimate" economic damages.

On Wednesday, it finalised a $7.8 billion settlement deal to settle thousands of claims from fishermen and others and has already paid out $6.3 billion to people and businesses who chose to sidestep the court process.

It has also pledged $1 billion to early restoration projects and will likely be required to spend more once a lengthy environmental impact study is concluded.

Source: Industry Search
Tags: Marine Spill Control Oil Spills Industry News

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