April 10, 2014
The media has long since stopped covering the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, but the aftermath of the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion is still taking a toll on wildlife four years later. The disaster spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
A new report, dismissed by BP as political advocacy and not science, says a record number of bottlenose dolphins and sea turtles are dying as a result of the disaster. The report, issued by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), “misrepresents the U.S. government’s investigation into dolphin deaths,” BP toldNational Geographic, “as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s own Web site states, that inquiry is ongoing.”
“The report also conveniently overlooks information available from other independent scientific reports showing that the Gulf is undergoing a strong recovery. Just this week, a study published by Auburn University researchers found no evidence that the spill impacted young red snapper populations on reefs off the Alabama coast.”
Doug Inkley, senior scientist for NWF, disagrees. “The oil is not gone. There is oil on the bottom of the gulf, oil washing up on the beach and there is oil in the marshes,” he told The Guardian on Wednesday.
The report says the dead bodies of more than 900 bottlenose dolphins have been found in the area of the oil spill since 2010. Scientists say data shows this is a far higher mortality rate than previous years.
According to research, dolphins swimming in areas where oil is still present are underweight, anemic, and suffer from liver and lung diseases. Sick animals like dolphins, Inkley stressed, are indicative of serious problem throughout the food chain.
The mortality rate for sea turtles is even more startling. Every year since the spill, around 500 dead sea turtles have been found in the disaster area. This, according to the National Wildlife Foundation, represents “a dramatic increase over normal rates.” The organization says the number of dead sea turtles is probably far higher because an undetermined number of them have died at sea.
In addition to sea turtles and dolphins, fish, birds and whales in the Gulf are suffering from the result of the oil spill. Birds wintering on the Louisiana coast have high levels of toxic oil compounds in their blood. According to the report, oil chemicals have produced irregular heartbeats in the embryos of bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Sperm whales in the Gulf have high levels of DNA-damaging metals such as chromium and nickel in their bodies.
“This spill is significant and, in all likelihood, will affect fish and wildlife across the Gulf, if not all of North America, for years, if not decades,” said Rowan Gould, the acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2010. “The concern is what we can’t see… We may never know the spill’s impacts on many species of birds and marine life, given how far offshore they are found.”
BP set aside $42.4 billion for cleanup, environmental fines paid to government, and compensation payments to victims. It is now fighting against further compensation. In 2013, the transnational oil company filed suit to remove a ban on U.S. government contracts. The ban was imposed in 2012 after it was determined BP lacked “business integrity” and had violated “business standards.”
“They’re attacking our entire judicial system. They’re attacking the judge. They’re attacking the claims administrator they helped appoint. They’re attacking the lawyers for representing people. Now they’ve filed an attack on the U.S. government demanding that they do business with them,” said attorney Joe Rice, who filed a lawsuit in 2012 against BP on behalf over 100,000 people impacted by the spill. “In our view, BP views us as a colony that they own and can exploit. It’s outrageous.”
In 2010, Infowars.com demanded the government take a serious look at BP’s role in the disaster. “Criminal investigations into the government and BP’s role in the disaster need to be launched by state authorities in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi immediately, while local authorities also need to call emergency legislative sessions in order to take over emergency response efforts from the feds before the crisis gets much worse,” Paul Joseph Watson wrote.
“Numerous reports have surfaced of locals and state authorities being prevented by BP contractors and the U.S. Coast Guard from helping to address the devastation the spill has created in the region,” Watson noted.
“Just as happened with Katrina, BP in alliance with the feds have erected an ‘information blockade’ around the oil spill… Every effort has been made to stop the truth about the oil spill from being uncovered – almost everything we learn about the situation comes directly from BP or the federal government. This strictly enforced cover-up shows that authorities are more concerned about protecting their information lock down than actually cleaning up the spill.”