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Mon Apr 20, 2020, 06:24 AM

Sparkling waters hide some lasting harm from 2010 oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Ten years after a well blew wild under a BP platform in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and touching off the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, gulf waters sparkle in the sunlight, its fish are safe to eat, and thick, black oil no longer visibly stains the beaches and estuaries. Brown pelicans, a symbol of the spill's ecological damage because so many dived after fish and came up coated with oil, are doing well.

But scientists who spent the decade studying the Deepwater Horizon spill still worry about its effects on dolphins, whales, sea turtles, small fish vital to the food chain, and ancient corals in the cold, dark depths.

The gulf's ecosystem is so complex and interconnected that it's impossible to take any single part as a measure of its overall health, said Rita Colwell, who has led the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

BP put up $500 million for the independent GoMRI program soon after the spill, part of more than $69 billion it says it has spent overall, including spill response, cleanup, settlements, restoration and other costs.

Some scientists say the recovery has been remarkable since those dark spring days in 2010, when oil billowing from the sea floor began killing wildlife and blackening marshes and beaches from Texas to Florida.

Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University chemist who has studied oil dispersal since the 1970s, said today's visitors to Louisiana’s marshes would have to know just where to look to find damage: “So there’s still oil there 10 years later. Is it significant compared to what we saw in 2010? And the answer is not only no, but hell no.”

https://www.chron.com/news/article/Sparkling-waters-hide-some-lasting-harm-from-2010-15211940.php

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