This April 21, 2010, file photo show the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, off the southeast tip of Louisiana. An April 20, 2010 explosion at the offshore platform killed 11 men, and the subsequent leak released an estimated 172 million gallons of petroleum into the gulf.
Gulf oil spill: One year later
A year ago on April 20, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and setting off a massive gusher of oil into the Gulf of Mexico that caused untold environmental harm and economic hardship for the people who call the Gulf Coast their home.
“Last year, those mangroves (on Cat Island) were healthy, dark green. This year they’re not,” said Todd Baker, a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Land is eroding on sites where the oil has killed vegetation.
BP, the oil giant at the center of one of the world’s biggest environmental crises, is making strong profits again, its stock has largely rebounded, and it is paying dividends to shareholders once more. It is also pursuing new ventures from the Arctic to India. It is even angling to explore again in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where it holds more leases than any competitor.
In the months since the April 20, 2010, blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon, an administrator has handed out $3.8 billion from a $20 billion claims fund set up by BP. The number of cleanup workers went from 48,000 at the height of the spill to 2,000 today.
Most scientists agree the effects “were not as severe as many had predicted,” said Christopher D’Elia, dean at the School of the Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University. “People had said this was an ecological Armageddon, and that did not come to pass.” Still, biologists are concerned about the spill’s long-term impact on marine life.