Ten years after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as gulf waters sparkle in the sunlight, scientists 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, and green groups fear that more offshore drilling will end in another catastrophe.
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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.
“We will see environmental impacts from this for the rest of our lifetimes,” Chief scientist of the National Marine Fisheries Service Steven A. Murawski said when the well blew.
Scientists also warned that the oil becoming invisible didn't imply that it has disappeared.
"The fact that you don't see (oil) on the beaches, or you don't see it floating around … doesn't mean that it's gone," Clifton Nunnally, a research scientist with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, told in an Oceana report released last week about the oil from the 2010 spill.
"It means that it's moved to a new ecosystem. And it's a system that operates on the order of millennia, not just years or decades," he added. "So, the recovery for a deep-sea ecosystem like this could be a longterm process."
In this context, environmentalists believe that the oil industry has not made the necessary changes to avoid another catastrophe like ten years ago, and demand altogether the end of offshore spilling.
"Offshore drilling is still as dirty and dangerous as it was 10 years ago," Diane Hoskins, Oceana campaign director, said in a statement last week.
"Instead of learning lessons from the BP disaster, President Trump is proposing to radically expand offshore drilling, while dismantling the few protections put in place as a result of the catastrophic blowout."