The Gulf

February 22, 2013

Latest News

• The Guardian, 2-22-13: BP and government lawyers prepare for battle over environmental cost of spill
• Bloomberg News, 2-21-13: BP Spill Pact Excluded Billions in Possible Loss Claims
• New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2-21-13: 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill fine restoration projects discussed

Beaches are open, fishing is rebounding, and seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most rigorously tested products in the nation’s food supply. Yet lurking below the surface, both literally and figuratively, a host of problems remain from the 2010 BP oil spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in history.

Even by the government’s generous estimate that roughly 75 percent of the nearly 5 million gallons of crude oil that leaked into the Gulf has been removed, either through cleanup methods, evaporation or natural processes, at least 1.2 million gallons remain. Most of that has either settled in wetlands or on the ocean floor, threatening vast swaths of marine life, coastal habitat and natural resources. Some cleanup continues, though most work crews pulled out after federal officials decided the massive effort had reached a point of diminishing returns and might even be causing more environmental damage.

A much greater cleanup effort will begin after a federal civil case against BP is settled and the amount of fines and penalties the company will pay is determined. The amount could be as high as $20 billion, and Congress passed a bill this year that requires 80 percent of the money to be returned to the Gulf region for restoration work.

Research will go on for years on the effects from the oil and gas that spewed into the Gulf, as well as from the chemical dispersants used to break down the oil. What is known now is that serious health problems persist throughout the region, with physical ailments affecting thousands of cleanup workers and mental health issues continuing among many more whose livelihoods were decimated by the spill.

As the litigation, the studies, and the restoration efforts unfold in the months and years to come, this website will keep you apprised of all the latest developments. Following are summaries of the key issues:

HEALTH

It will take years to learn the full extent of the health problems caused by the BP oil spill. In fact, a federal study is just getting under way to determine how thousands of cleanup workers were affected by exposure to petrochemicals and dispersants in the aftermath of the 2010 disaster. Read more »

WILDLIFE

Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico has been pronounced safe to eat and oil-covered pelicans are only a haunting memory from the BP spill that began in April 2010. Yet fish and wildlife in the Gulf clearly are still reeling from exposure to the oil and dispersants more than two years ago, and the effects could be seen for decades to come. Read more »

CLEANUP

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and started the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, BP cleanup crews were still finding tar balls and oil mats on an almost daily basis. Read more »

RESEARCH

The biggest oil spill in U.S. history will also be the most carefully researched environmental event of all time. Millions of dollars have already been earmarked for studies by hundreds of scientists working to document the damages done by the 2010 BP well blowout, and millions more have been pledged by BP and the federal government. Read more »

ECONOMY

The three pillars of strength in the Gulf economy – energy, seafood and tourism – are still feeling effects from the BP oil spill more than two years after the runaway well stopped gushing into the sea. Read more »

COMPENSATION

In a year’s time, BP paid out more than a quarter of its $20 billion fund to compensate victims of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The $6.1 billion in payments to more than 225,000 claimants did little to quell controversy about the fund, however. Some 574,000 businesses and individuals had filed claims with BP, and thousands of those were denied. Read more »

LAWSUITS

BP has taken two major steps toward settling the massive litigation facing the company since the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but the final chapter is still a long way from being written. Read more »

INVESTIGATIONS

Three major investigations of the BP oil spill all pointed to the same thing: The worst environmental disaster in U.S. history could have been avoided if basic safety procedures for offshore drilling had been followed. Read more »

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