The extensive damage caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the ensuing cleanup efforts to natural resources along the shoreline and in deepwater habitats of the Gulf of Mexico were outlined for the first time Friday (Dec. 6) in a comprehensive environmental assessment.
The assessment, released by federal and state oil spill trustees, accompanies a plan for spending $627 million on 44 projects aimed at restoring some of the damage outlined in the report, or compensating the public for lost resources. That plan is the third batch of projects to be paid for with $1 billion set aside in 2011 by BP to build "early restoration" projects under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process required by the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
The release of the report and tentative approval of the projects were announced Friday by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at the Jean Lafitte Historical National Park's Barataria Unit in Marrero on Friday morning.
The report cites studies showing continued problems with growing oysters in both Louisiana waters, where freshwater diversions designed to keep oil out of wetlands killed oyster beds, and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, which may be linked to toxic chemicals associated with the BP oil. It also recounts concerns about the deaths of hundreds of bottlenosed dolphins, thousands of sea turtles and migratory waterfowl -- plus potential reproductive problems for these species.