2 years later: What’s latest on Gulf oil spill?

Apr 19, 2012, 9:53 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Two years have passed since the April 20, 2010, blowout of BP’s Macondo well triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and spawning the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.

After several attempts to cap the well failed, engineers finally halted the flow of oil after more than 85 days, but not before an estimated 206 million gallons of crude spilled. The oil soiled fragile wetlands, stained beaches, killed wildlife and closed vast areas of the Gulf to commercial fishing for time.

A series of government probes have spread out the blame for the disaster among London-based BP PLC, rig owner Transocean Ltd. and other companies involved in the doomed drilling project. But plenty of questions remain about the spill’s long-term environmental effects.

Here are some questions and answers about the current state of the Gulf Coast’s tourism, oil and gas and fishing industries, of the region’s environment and of efforts to resolve spill-related litigation:


A: On Wednesday, BP and a team of plaintiffs’ attorneys presented a federal judge in New Orleans with the proposed terms of a class-action settlement that would resolve more than 100,000 claims by people and businesses who blame economic losses over the spill. They’re asking the judge to give preliminary approval to the deal that would be one of the largest class-action settlements ever. BP PLC estimates it will pay about $7.8 billion to resolve these claims, but the settlement doesn’t have a cap. The agreement doesn’t resolve any claims by the Gulf states or the Justice Department, which launched civil and criminal probes following the spill.


A: BP has repeatedly said it accepts some responsibility for the spill and will pay what it owes, while urging other companies to pay their share. The company created a $20 billion fund to resolve many claims out of court. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility paid out more than $6 billion from the fund before a court-supervised administrator took over the claims process on March 8. BP says it has spent more than $22 billion on spill response expenses, including more than $8.1 billion in payments to people, businesses and government entities.


A: A presidential commission that investigated the Deepwater Horizon disaster says the Interior Department, which oversees offshore drilling, has taken a series of steps to improve safety and protect the environment from another spill. The commission says the industry also has made improvements, including installation of capping stacks that can be used if there’s another deep-water well blowout in the Gulf. But the group’s commissioners have expressed disappointment that Congress hasn’t done more to improve drilling safety.


A: All of the Gulf of Mexico, except for a few spots in Louisiana’s coastal bays hit hardest by the spill, is open for recreational and commercial fishing. But fishermen say they are struggling to return to the harvest levels they saw before the BP spill and, more ominously, warn that many species seem to have been hurt by the spill. The state and federal government say Gulf seafood is now being tested more than it’s ever been and that it’s safe to eat.


A: Millions of dollars are being poured into scientific research looking at what has happened to the Gulf since the spill. Many of the findings are not known yet because they’re part of a secret legal process state and federal agencies are doing to assess how much the oil spill cost in environmental damage. Independent scientists, though, are reporting that they have found oil damage or the presence of oil in a variety places _ deep-sea corals, bait fish in Louisiana, reef fish like red snapper, mangrove shrubs and in oysters. Although the damage is not as bad as first feared, scientists say the picture of the Gulf is not as rosy as it may have seemed just a year ago.


A: Most of the 200 million gallons of oil that spewed into the Gulf from BP’s out-of-control well is no longer in the environment after it evaporated, dissipated or was cleaned up. But there is an unknown amount that remains. Scientists say lots of oil sits on the sea floor of the Gulf and oil, in the form of tar balls or weathered oil, can be found washing up on beaches. There also is oil in Louisiana’s marshes that remains in those places hit hardest when oil washed ashore _ particularly Barataria Bay and around the mouth of the Mississippi River.


A: The spill dealt a severe blow to tourism-driven businesses along the Gulf Coast. A June 2011 report prepared for the Louisiana Office of Tourism says lost visitor spending in the state was expected to total $153 million through 2013. But the tourism industry has rebounded over the past two years. BP says it has paid $150 million to tourism organizations in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies as the ...
Associated Press

1/6 Takeaways: Angry Trump, dire legal warnings and ketchup

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Jan. 6 committee held a surprise hearing Tuesday delivering alarming new testimony about Donald Trump’s angry, defiant and vulgar actions as he ignored repeated warnings against summoning the mob to the Capitol and then refused to intervene to stop the deadly violence as rioters laid siege. Witness Cassidy Hutchinson, a […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

California budget won’t cover out-of-state abortion travel

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — While Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged to make California a sanctuary for women seeking abortions, his administration won’t spend public money to help people from other states travel to California for the procedure. Newsom’s decision, included in a budget agreement reached over the weekend, surprised abortion advocates who have been working […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, from the Philippines, attends a news conference in O...
Associated Press

Maria Ressa: Philippines affirms news site shutdown order

HONOLULU (AP) — Filipino journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa announced in a speech in Hawaii Tuesday that the Philippine government is affirming a previous order to shut down Rappler, the news website she co-founded, which has gained notoriety for its reporting of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs. The Philippines’ […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference June 7, 2022, in Ne...
Associated Press

NYC mayor: Investigate Giuliani for ‘false’ slap claim

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams suggested Tuesday that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani be investigated for filing a false police report for claiming he was assaulted by a heckler who clapped him on the back Sunday at a Staten Island grocery store. “Someone needs to remind former Mayor Giuliani that falsely […]
21 hours ago
This exhibit from video released by the House Select Committee, shows a photo of former President D...
Associated Press

Trump painted in testimony as volatile, angry president

WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Donald Trump learned his attorney general had publicly rejected his election fraud claims, he heaved his lunch at the wall with such force that the porcelain plate shattered and ketchup streamed down. On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, consumed by crowd size concerns, he directed staff in profane terms […]
21 hours ago
FILE - This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pr...
Associated Press

US officials announce more steps against monkeypox outbreak

NEW YORK (AP) — Reacting to a surprising and growing monkeypox outbreak, U.S. health officials on Tuesday expanded the group of people recommended to get vaccinated against the monkeypox virus. They also said they are providing more monkeypox vaccine, working to expand testing, and taking other steps to try to get ahead of the outbreak. […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
2 years later: What’s latest on Gulf oil spill?