There has been no shortage of discussion and debate surrounding all aspects of the 2010 BP oil spill. The spill itself, the Deepwater Horizon Settlement Program, health issues cleanup workers are experiencing, and BP stocks after the spill are all hot topics.
One of the most pressing issues, and the focus of phase II of BP’s current civil trial, is determining the immediate and long-term effects of the spill on the environment. While BP’s team has downplayed or denied any evidence of long- term damage, other scientists and experts disagree, citing evidence of damage and ill-effects of both the spill, and the cleaning agent used to rid the sea of oil, Corexit, on wildlife, ecosystems, and the health of sea life overall.
While BP continues to push back against those claiming seafood may still be unsafe to eat and that the oil did in fact damage deep sea life, a new study out of Texas A&M University is not supporting BP’s statements. While previous studies have focused strictly on surface level impacts of the spill, this is the first study to focus on deep sea organisms and their environments.
“We were surprised to find that much of the oil never left the deep sea,” said Paul Montagna of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University. Montagna explained that events such as the oil spill make it extremely difficult for organisms on the sea floor to recover, as their ecosystem is unique from any other place on earth. From the temperature, to the biological makeup of the water, and even the specific types of species that can thrive at that depth, the ecosystem is far more complex than life at the surface of the sea.
Results of this trial will determine exactly how many gallons of oil leaked and whether BP will be held simply negligent or grossly negligent. The fine will vary greatly depending on that determination.