The 2010 BP oil spill economically and financially affected each and every county bordering the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill was of massive proportions; an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf, and gained massive media attention. In fact, BP has remained in the spotlight as it has made its way through civil and criminal trials, appeals to the Settlement Program, and a multi-million dollar PR campaign designed to deter potential claimants.
While most people across the country have heard about the 2010 BP oil spill, most are unfamiliar with the oil spill that took place in the Tampa Bay twenty years ago, in August of 1993. On August 10th, three ships collided, causing more than 330,000 gallons of heavy fuel and oil to leak into the mouth of the Tampa Bay.
Barbara Suto, Wild Life Biologist at the Gulf Coast Bird Rescue during the 1993 disaster compared the two oil spills. “Quite unlike the BP spill that went on, and on, and on. The media focused on it for only a few days. People in Florida knew it was not everywhere. Tourists kept coming for their end-of-summer vacations, regardless.” As most of us know, this did not hold for the 2010 oil spill, as economists correlate Florida’s massive financial losses to the disappearance of the tourism base that normally made their way to Florida’s beaches.
Gregg Nicklaus, then and current owner of the Sirata Beach Resort agreed the environmental and economic damage was big. Nothing of course compared to the BP oil spill, but definitely impacting. “The ecological damage was immeasurable, but so was the economic damage. Strangely, when we have major storms hitting our coast, remnants of tar balls still wash upon our beach 20 years later. Apparently the oil is still there under 6-8” of sand.”
The lasting damage from an oil spill fifteen times smaller than the BP oil spill remains present and clear. Experts and scientists can only predict how long the effects of the BP spill will play a role in the environment. While the Settlement Program is addressing business and economic losses, the environment is not so easy to correct. BP has spent over $2 billion in clean up funds and has also dedicated $500 million over the next ten years to research in the Gulf.
Florida residents, business owners, and environmentalists remain hopefully and positive that the damage will be corrected as efficiently as possible.