Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Report Says Gulf of Mexico at Baseline Again Post Deepwater Horizon Spill

BP has released a report indicating that the Gulf of Mexico has returned to its baseline condition in the 5 years since the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. The Gulf of Mexico Environmental Recovery and Restoration report also indicates that impacts from the spill largely occurred in the spring and summer of 2010.

Courtesy of NOAA
The report is based on scientific studies that government agencies, academic institutions, BP and others conducted as part of the spill response, the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process or through independent research. NRDA is the process that the U.S. government, state agencies and BP conduct studies to identify injuries to natural resources resulting from the Deepwater Horizon accident, as well as the best way of restoring injured resources and the amount of money required to do so. This ongoing assessment is the largest environmental evaluation of its kind, spanning nearly 5 years and costing around $1.3 billion to date.

The report also looks at the BP-funded early restoration projects to speed the recovery of natural resources in the Gulf that were injured as a result of the spill. It also looks at the BP-funded early restoration projects to speed the recovery of natural resources in the Gulf that were injured as a result of the spill. The company has committed to pay $500 million over 10 years to support independent research through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, and has reportedly spent more than $28 billion on response, cleanup, early restoration and claims payments.

Available data do not indicate the spill caused any significant long-term population-level impact to species in the Gulf. NRDA data did not reveal ongoing adverse impacts to bird populations linked to the spill beyond the initial, limited acute mortality in 2010. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data show that fish populations are robust, and commercial landings generally have been consistent with pre-spill trends and ranges. Findings published by researchers and scientists working with the NRDA trustees show the spill did not affect most deepwater coral communities.

The report indicates that several factors were key in lessening the spill’s impact. It took place in deep water, far offshore and in a temperate climate, allowing the oil to break down. The type of light crude oil involved in the spill also degrades and evaporates faster than heavier oils. At the same time, the offshore response and shoreline cleanup – for which BP reportedly spent more than $14 billion and workers devoted more than 70 million personnel hours – mitigated the damage.

Also, the report says that in 2011, BP voluntarily agreed to spend $1 billion on projects to expedite the restoration of natural resources in the Gulf while the NRDA process was ongoing. As of December 2014, BP and the federal and state natural resource trustees had agreed on 54 early restoration projects totaling about $698 million.

Visit here to read the entire news article breaking down this report from Offshore.