Assessing the BP Spill, 4 Years later
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Nearly four years after the BP oil spill, a coalition of environmental groups says the impacts are still being felt.
That coalition took us out to some of the hardest hit areas of Barataria Bay, to witness those impacts first hand.
On a gorgeous day, the marsh west of Myrtle Grove in Plaquemines Parish appears healthy and lush, but as we motor into Barataria Bay, our guide says things get dicey.
"There's a lot of land missing," marsh guide Dave Marino said. "It used to go out well past where those boats are."
4 years after the BP spill, environmentalists say areas that got oil appear to have accelerated land loss.
"Years ago they were vibrant islands full of pelicans, spoonbills and egrets,"Melanie Driscoll with the National Audubon Society said.
That's especially true on Cat Island, which was oiled in 2010 by the spill.
"It's a fair bet that oil got on the roots and killed the mangrove," David Muth with the National Wildlife Federation said.
Like most of the coast, Cat Island was shrinking before, but has now shrunk to a point that it no longer supports nesting areas, but the impacts could go even deeper. " They have oil in their eggs fingerprinted to the Deepwater Horizon spill," Driscoll said.
The wildlife federation is out with a report, that shows damage to wildlife on both ends of the food chain.
"We saw some cellular impacts on the cocahoe," Amanda Moore with the NWF said.
The report also says that dolphin deaths have tripled since the spill. Moore said, "We're seeing reproductive issues, lung disease...some dolphins are washing up and starving."
When it comes to making things right in Louisiana the National Wildlife Federation says BP still has a long way to go. That's a situation that could change next year.
"The trial in January is the third phase of BP's trial," Moore said.
And the wildlife federation believes BP could be on the hook for as much as $18 billion.
BP has already paid out about $1 billion, to jump start a coastal restoration project at Lake Hermitage, and industry experts say four years later, the industry has changed when it comes to oil spill response.
"There's been some good things," Eric Smith with the Tulane Energy Institute said. "Capping stacks, and material on standby so you don't have to wait 80 days for a response."
For it's part BP said in a statement, that the Wildlife Federation report is a "Piece of political advocacy" -- not science.
It also accused the federation of cherry picking reports to support it's agenda.
But the Federation is undeterred.
"The impacts of the oil are still playing out, and working their way up the food chain." Moore said.
The good news is that many of the displaced pelicans, turns and spoonbills, have now moved to another unnamed island to the east.
As the recovery continues, wildlife experts wait and see, what the federal court determines will be fair compensation.
BP's statement says that no definitive cause has been identified for the increase in dolphin strandings in the northern gulf the third phase of the BP trial to determine environmental fines, will begin in January of next year.
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