BP (Not Coast Guard): Gulf Cleanup Finally Complete

BP says it’s so, now round up the party favors: The cleanup efforts to wipe away all memory of the 2010 oil spill that lasted 85 days and sullied some 778 miles of Gulf of Mexico shore when the company’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded is, after exhausting $14 billion and 70 million man-hours, officially over.

Never mind that the U.S. Coast Guard, which has been partnering with and monitoring BP in the cleanup effort, is far from through. What do they know?

The statement from John Minge, BP America’s chairman and president: “Reaching this milestone is the result of the extraordinary efforts of thousands of people from BP, local communities, government agencies and academic institutions working together. Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon accident, BP committed to cleaning the shoreline and supporting the Gulf’s economic and environmental recovery. Completing active cleanup is further indication that we are keeping that commitment.”

But The Hill reports that BP didn’t consult with Coast Guard officials prior to making its announcement. Though the first phase of the shoreline remediation plan has been completed, Coast Guard Capt. Thomas Sparks, the federal coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon Response Team, said the cleanup efforts are merely transitioning to a “Middle Response” phase, in which the focus will now be more tailored to “re-oiling” events and more fine-tuned cleanup using more technologically advanced equipment and specialized staff.

Yeah, but did he run that explanation by the public-relations department? Says Sparks: “…Let me be absolutely clear: This response is not over — not by a long shot. The transition to the Middle Response process does not end cleanup operations and we continue to hold the responsible party accountable for Deepwater Horizon cleanup costs.”

Though the company insists it will continue to “keep resources in place” to clean up any additional oil in need of cleanup, what will it do to cleanup all the problems the spill created in the ecosystem?

A study released just last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that several species of tuna and amberjack that were just embryos or growing juveniles when the BP spill occurred in 2010 now exhibit heart defects tied directly to exposure to crude oil. Particularly damaging was how spawning season for tuna in the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico coincided with the spill.

Said Nat Scholz, head of the ecotoxicology program at the NOAA’s Seattle-based Northwest Fisheries Science Center: “They’re not going to be able to survive [to adulthood]. You’re going to be losing those fish from the adult spawning population.”

Aside from marked inhibition in heart rate, the study found, “Morphological abnormalities included… reduction in the outgrowth of the finfolds or finfold blisters, a dorsal or upward curvature of the body axis and marked reduction in the growth of the eye.”

Yeah, but didn’t these scientists get the word from BP? Mission: complete.

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]