Nearly three years ago, on April 20, 2010, the BP oil spill began, along with the subsequent recovery efforts. Not surprisingly, the BP company has been running a series of advertisements with the tagline “The Gulf is Back.” As with many disasters, though, there’s another side of the story, and it’s one that’s not so rosy as what’s portrayed in the commercials.
The General Impact on Wildlife
Due to the Gulf Coast’s delicate ecosystem, predictions about the impact of the spill seemed dire. The oil was not only poisonous to the habitat, but also hard to clean up thoroughly, because it left a sticky residue.
According to Living Green Magazine, it’s not enough to measure the current state of things and hope to understand the complete effects of the incident. Some environmentalists see cleanup efforts as only an immediate fix for a problem that could persist for decades to come.
Over time, the oil spill may result in the production of oxidized compounds, which would bring extremely high levels of toxicity to the area. An article in Green Living Magazine also cautioned that the oil is breaking down so slowly that some of it may still remain even a century from now, and until it’s all gone, efforts to assess the damage are somewhat premature.
A Resilient Dolphin Serves an Educational Purpose
A dolphin named Chance quickly became famous for being the first animal found by the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies that was still alive after being washed up on the beach following the disaster. He was part of a group of over 100 other dolphins, and unfortunately, all the others perished. Chance was only given about a two percent chance of surviving, but today he is alive and well, and the researchers who found him say that his recovery can shed some light on what they consider to be a record number of dolphin deaths.
An article from Fox News reports that Chance will become a part of conservation-themed educational shows this summer, but now is just living in a pool with two other dolphins and being an example to researchers who are striving to pinpoint the extent of the oil spill damage. One of the scientists even likened Chance to the black boxes that are examined after an airplane crash.
A Lengthy Civil Trial
In legal news surrounding the incident, a civil trial regarding the amount of damages to be awarded has just entered the fourth week, and could last up up to three months in total. The purpose of the trial is to assign liability for the accident, which killed 11 workers. In the worst-case scenario for the companies found guilty of damages, they may be required to pay tens of billions of dollars to cover the fines and damages.
An article in The Maritime Executive notes that last February, estimated settlement costs were set at 8.5 billion, but one of the reasons that the civil trial came about is because the BP company is seeking to halt some of the settlement payments, saying that the responsible administrator is misinterpreting some of the claims, and as a result, increasing damage to the company. BP’s lawyers assert that for every day that the trial persists, legal costs continue to grow.
Clearly, there are two sides to every story, and as the examples above demonstrate, it’s always worthwhile to evaluate several news sources to gain a clear picture of how things have evolved during the recovery efforts of the past three years.
Sylvia Rowe is writes for environmental and green blogs. Interested in practicing law and protecting the environment? An environmental law program may give you the education and skills you need.