It has been almost a year and a half since the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused one of the most extreme environmental catastrophes in history. Around five millions barrels worth of oil was released into the ocean after flowing freely for three months. The leak was finally plugged on July 15, 2010, but by that stage the damage was so extensive that it is estimated to cost BP $40.7 billion in cleanup operations.
In a recent inquiry into the disaster it was alleged that the crew of the oil rig ignored early disaster warning signals, which was a significant cause of the accident. The Marshall Islands, a small Pacific nation in which the oil rig was registered, executed the inquiry. They also determined that the engineering standards for the rig control were not up to standard. A report by the US Coast Guard echoed these findings, announcing “serious safety management system failures and a poor safety culture.”
The extent of the contamination to the marine environment has been so great that they are still making new discoveries of oil deposits over a year after the leak was stopped. Just recently fields of a tar-like material were found on the bottom of the water at Deer Island in the Gulf of Mexico. Fisherman made the discovery and reported it to BP who said they will now perform tests. Horn Island shares a similar fate, with chunks of an asphalt like material littering its beaches. BP have already cleaned Horn Island once before, but have now said that they will have to go back in and do it again. The BP spokesperson added that they have crews out everywhere now, looking for any signs of oil and recording the locations.
As many residents and business owners in the Gulf of Mexico may lose their livelihoods from this disaster, BP is facing a deluge of lawsuits. BP announced that they have already received 23,000 individual claims so far. Legal action can, however, be an expensive proposition for the thousands of low-income workers who have been affected by the oil spill. One legal aid office in North Florida now looks set to assist these people with news that they have received a grant for $200,000 to pay for the legal fees of anyone that wants to proceed with a claim against the energy giant. The grant was provided by an anonymous donor.
The cleanup and recovery from this catastrophe is set to go on for years, with many stories yet to emerge. Don’t get caught out of the loop. If you’re looking for an easy way to keep informed of news updates on the BP oil disaster, please take a look at this constantly updated world news site.
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