BP's catastrophe last year in the Gulf of Mexico that spilled more than 205 million gallons of oil into the ocean's waters, the result of fundamental dangers not being addressed, has led to a new report calling for an end to all new offshore drilling.
As the death toll of marine wildlife impacted by BP’s Gulf disaster continues to mount, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has released a new report that estimates the true cost to the Gulf’s wildlife, going beyond numbers reported on dead animals thus far, and states the government’s official tally of sickened or dead animals is just a small fraction of actual numbers impacted by the disaster.
Lingering Threats addresses key reforms needed to help protect the environment, people and wildlife from offshore drilling in the Gulf, the Arctic and elsewhere.
With the use of multipliers from leading scientists, the CBD estimates that around 26,000 dolphins and whales, 82,000 birds, and 6,000 sea turtles were likely harmed by the spill.
More than 88,000 square miles of closures to fishing occurred after the spill, and with the Gulf being home to more than 500 fish species, an accurate count of fish impacted by the spill is difficult to measure. The oil and dispersed oil are toxic to all stages of fish life, affecting fish reproduction for decades.
“Despite some tough talk from the Obama administration, precious little has actually been done to make offshore drilling any safer than it was the day BP’s well started leaking out of control,” said Kierán Suckling, CBD executive director, in a company statement. “Meanwhile, oiled wildlife are still washing up dead in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Obama administration is approving new drilling applications.”
Around 25 percent of the oil was recovered, according to the CBD, and based on that number, the spill has left behind more than 154 million gallons of oil in the Gulf. The oil discharge also dumped an additional 225,000 tons of methane into the ocean.
Adding almost 2 million gallons of toxic dispersants to the mix helped break the oil into smaller particles that could make it more toxic and help its entry into the food chain.
“We simply can’t allow new offshore drilling when the old system, which set the stage for the BP disaster, remains largely intact,” Suckling added. “That’s asking for another environmental catastrophe, not preventing one.”
The Center’s report is based on government figures, scientific articles and news reports. It notes there are more than 320 known spills involving offshore drilling in the Gulf since 1964, with BP’s being the largest.
In the analysis of key reforms left unaddressed since the spill, the Center calls for closing the loophole allowing hundreds of offshore drilling projects to escape environmental review; recognition of oil-spill threats and their impact on the environment; compliance with the Endangered Species Act; a halt to offshore drilling plans in the Arctic; and a lifting of the liability cap of the the Oil Pollution Act, making sure oil companies are held accountable for their drilling risks.