On the front lines of the African climate change battle
'99.99% of antiques in the market are fake'
Erika Blumenfeld | 21 Apr 2012 15:41 GMT
On April 20, 2010, BP\(***)s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing 4.9 million barrels of oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico over an 87-day period, causing the largest environmental disaster in US history
Some 75,000 clean-up workers and volunteers struggled to keep the oil from reaching the coast and Louisiana(***)s fragile marshlands. Many scientists believe that between 75 and 90 per cent of BP(***)s oil remains submerged underwater, due to the use of 1.9 million gallons of chemical dispersants
Thousands of out-of-work fishermen participated in BP\(***)s so-called Vessels Of Opportunity (VOO) programme, where they worked placing oil boom and skimming oil
Shrimp boats were outfitted with oil boom and skimming equipment and sent to clean up the oil. However, VOO workers told Al Jazeera that when oil locations were called in to the Coast Guard, clean-up crews were told to leave the area and planes would arrive to apply dispersants
Booming operations were often futile, due to tides, winds, and improper booming operations. Studies are currently underway to determine how much of Louisiana\(***)s fragile marsh was destroyed after BP\(***)s oil disaster
The Gulf Coast is a prime summer tourist destination, and during the summer of the BP oil disaster, tourists arrived to find most beaches still open, in spite of the ongoing clean-up efforts
Many Gulf Coast residents accused BP clean-up crews of working at night to clean the oiled beaches in order to deliberately bury tar balls and oil mats that washed ashore so that the beaches would be clean for the tourist season during the day
Gulf Coast residents of Grand Isle displayed signs like these for more than a year, showing their anger at both BP and the clean-up operations
Gulf Coast residents, enraged by state and federal governments handling of emerging health issues, financial crises within the fishing communities and the ongoing washing up of oil, held many rallies at state capitol in Baton Rouge
Regional scientists are deeply concerned about oil that is seeping less than 15km from BP\(***)s Macondo well, and Al Jazeera spotted this oil seep on two flyovers in September 2011 and again in February 2012
Giant submerged tar matts, some 100m by 500m, continue to be exposed on Louisiana beaches, particularly after tropical storms move through the area
Biological oceanographer Ed Cake believes we are still in the short-term impact stage of the disaster. "I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover," he said. "Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades"
The Centre for Biological Diversity estimates that "approximately 6,000 sea turtles, 26,000 dolphins and whales, 82,000 birds, and countless fish and invertebrates may have been harmed by the disaster"
A VOO worker, on condition of anonymity, showed Al Jazeera a small sample of several tons of oil-soaked marsh he had sucked up into plastic containers on his boat
This "tar log", found in Mississippi some 18 months after BP(***)s well was capped, was shown to Coast Guards at a contingency meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi. Officials have announced that the same methods would again be used for dealing with future spills, including the use of dispersants
Mississippi resident Charles Taylor told Coast Guard officials: "I(***)ve had bloody diarrhoea for 45 days, I(***)m anaemic, dehydrated and have ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and methelpentates in my blood." Officials did not address his health concerns at the meeting
Litigation against BP continues, both as class actions and private lawsuits, despite the oil giant having already settled some cases totalling $7.8bn
Fishermen along the Gulf Coast told Al Jazeera that catches are between 20 to 90 per cent less than normal, depending on species and area. Vietnamese shrimpers in Mississippi, however, continue to maintain their boats with hopes for the next shrimping season
Seafood vendor Henry Poynot, owner of Big Fisherman Seafoods in New Orleans, told Al Jazeera that people are buying less seafood than ever, a situation he blames on the BP oil disaster
Many scientists, fishermen and ecologists blame chemicals from BP(***)s oil and dispersants for a growing number of seafood deformities and mutations, such as these eyeless shrimp, caught in Louisiana(***)s Barataria Bay in September 2011
In March 2012, Macondo area Coast Guard Captain Jonathan Burton told Al Jazeera that in the event of another huge oil disaster in the area, the same three response methods will be used: skimming, burning, and dispersing the oil [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]
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