2 years after BP spill, disaster not over

2012-04-20 22:05

kalahari.com

  • Renewable Energy
    New, thoroughly updated fourth edition of the authoritative field guide to the entire Renewable... Now R1,350.00
    buy now

New Orleans - 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 20 April 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 1 500m below the surface that spewed about 4.9 million barrels 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.

The dispersants - along with favorable winds and currents, oil-eating bacteria in the Gulf's warm waters, the sheer distance of the well from the coast and a fleet of cleanup crews - kept most of the oil out of the marshes and limited, to an extent, the immediate environmental impact.

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.

Too soon

"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 $7.8bn settlement deal to settle thousands of claims from fishermen and others and has already paid out $6.3bn to people and businesses who chose to sidestep the court process.

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

"From the beginning, BP stepped up to meet our obligations to the communities in the Gulf Coast region, and we've worked hard to deliver on that commitment for nearly two years," BP chief Bob Dudley said in a statement.

"The proposed settlement represents significant progress toward resolving issues from the Deepwater Horizon accident and contributing further to economic and environmental restoration efforts along the Gulf Coast."

Suffering

Theresa Dardar is among those who lives have been changed by the drilling disaster.

She lives in Bayou Pointe-au-Chien, a Native American fishing community on Louisiana's Gulf Coast her family has called home for 300 years.

Dardar and her neighbours have watched their coastal lands get slowly swallowed by the sea after canals built by the oil companies brought salt water into freshwater marshes.

Now she fears that her family's livelihood could disappear.

"How are you going to make us whole if we lose our fishing industry?" she asked of BP. "I don't think they can answer me," Dardar told AFP.

That fear is echoed in coastal communities across the Gulf Coast.

"We're suffering," said George Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fisherman's Association.

Despite the cheques rolling in from BP, Barisich said some fishermen could still end up losing their homes.

Many were just getting their finances back on track after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the BP spill closed a third of Gulf waters to fishing.

While the waters may be open now with assurances that the seafood is safe to eat, prices are down, costs are up and the harvest has been disappointing.

A third generation fisherman from St Bernard Parish south of New Orleans, Barisich employed eight people and pulled in annual profits of up to $100 000 in the years leading up to the spill.

Last year he had two employees, and he lost $40 000. He blames BP.

Read more on:    bp  |  us  |  us oil slick
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Bellville 13:23 PM
Road name: N1 Outbound

ROADWORKS - left lane after the Old Oak Road exit

Hermanus 12:53 PM
Road name: R43

CRIME SCENE between Onrus and Hermanus - expect delays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Plant Engineer ( Hire Resolve )

Cape Town
Hire Resolve
R750 000 - R650 000 Per Year

E-Commerce Manager

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Jackie Bedeker & Associates
R25 000 - R30 000 Per Month

Assistant Manager

Cape Town
The House of Busby
R5 000 - R6 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is the end of the month and there may be a strong focus on organising finances. You may have found a need to reconstruct or...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.