April 13, 2011

BP Oil Spill – One Year Later

The April 20 anniversary of the BP spill is creeping up as residents of the Gulf of Mexico are still seeing the backlash of the worst environment disaster in U.S. history.

The explosion killed 11 workers and sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, releasing 206 million gallons of oil before it was finally contained.

The oil tainted hundreds of miles of fragile coastal wetlands and beaches and a third of the Gulf's waters were closed to fishing.

Over 130,000 fisherman and coastal residents are still trying to push their compensation claims through a clogged system.

"They could give me $500 million and it wouldn't be enough," said Dean Blanchard, who used to handle as much as 500,000 pounds (226,800 kilograms) of shrimp a day at his Grand Isle, Louisiana dock.

"It's not the money, it's your life's work. It's what I love, it's what I did my whole life and they just came along and blindsided me," Blanchard told the AFP news agency

Favorable winds and currents, the location of the well, and about two million gallons of chemical dispersants kept the bulk of the oil from reaching shore.

Crews are still actively cleaning 235 miles of coastline and plan to return to about 300 more miles once tourism and nesting season is over.

It is not clear what impact the oil will have on fish, shrimp, dolphins and other marine creatures.

"The outstanding question is did we save something in the short-term to extend a problem in the long-term," Larry McKinney, director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said in a statement to the French news agency.

"We just don't have enough information to say one way or another."

New research from Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire shows that despite the roughly equivalent economic compensation, Louisiana and Florida residents differ in perceptions about the current and long-term effects of the spill.

"Louisiana residents were more likely than Floridians to say their family suffered major economic setbacks because of the spill, to expect compensation by BP, and plan to leave the region as a result of the spill. Louisianans also were more likely to think their state and local governments were doing an excellent job responding to the spill and to trust newspapers as a source of information regarding the spill," Jessica Ulrich, a doctoral student in sociology at UNH and research assistant at the Carsey Institute, said in a statement.

The study found that about 48 percent of Gulf Coast residents perceived damage to the environment and wildlife as the most serious result of the oil spill.


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