In April of 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing eleven workers and causing one of the worst environmental catastrophes in recent history. After three months, 4.9 million gallons of oil were released into the ocean.
The Guardian reported that about 1,000 miles of shoreline were affected, and a layer of oil and dead animals 2,900 square miles wide sits on the bottom of the ocean, according to Samantha Joye, who led a research team in the Gulf from the University of Georgia. Now, 2 years later, many are reexamining the ongoing effects of the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Here are the most recent happenings in the Deepwater Horizon saga:
-Tar balls containing deadly bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus have been washing up on the Gulf’s beaches. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cases of the infection are fatal about 20 percent of the time. While BP has denied this health risk, a study at Auburn University confirmed the bacteria showing up onshore.
-A preliminary study released by the Surfrider Foundation this month shows that Corexit, the chemical BP used to break the oil up, is actually hindering the microbial degradation of the crude oil. In other words, BP’s plan is backfiring. To make matters worse, the chemical combination penetrates wet skin more easily than dry, so the carcinogenic mixture is even more easily absorbed into skin, according to Mother Jones. These scary photos shows what that looks like.
-The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found in October of last year that whales and dolphins are dying at twice the normal rates in the northern Gulf of Mexico, even 18 months after the spill.
-An expose by Al Jazeera found that Gulf fishermen are finding disturbingly high numbers of mutated, eyeless, brown, and deformed shrimp, crabs, and fish, in addition to a significantly lower catch. These issues have been linked to the use of toxic dispersants, which are known carcinogens.
While all of these problems continue, however, federal investigators made the very first arrest connected to the case this past Tuesday. Kurt Mix, a drilling engineer at BP, was arrested on two counts of obstructing justice by deleting hundreds of potentially incriminating text messages. However, many have said Mix is a ‘minor player’ in what’s being called the ‘BP cover-up.’ The government maintains that more arrests will be made but, two years later, that still remains to be seen.