In April of 2010 a massive oil spill resulting from an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig occurred. The infamous spill lasted months and resulted in a number of oil worker deaths and at least 200 million gallons of oil to enter the Gulf of Mexico. Extensive damage occurred across the Gulf of Mexico, the beaches and to the wildlife calling the region home.
The recent Hurricane Isaac which hit the Caribbean and U.S. coastline appears to have stirred up oil which has been residing on the sea floor. After the storm passed, Louisiana beaches turned up with tar mats and tar balls. Despite having been over two years since the BP oil spill the spill has been linked to the tar currently on beaches. Officials from BP have indicated they will begin cleaning the region on September 7th.
As of September 1, Louisiana is the only state to have found the tar along its beaches. Mississippi, Florida and Alabama have thus far been tar mat and ball free. Flood waters have been indicated as possibly hiding more tar elsewhere, however, reports thus far have only indicated Louisiana as having the tar presently.
A giant tar mat is included in the oil damage, a bus-size mat on Elmer’s Island, which is a wildlife refuge. A total of thirteen miles of Louisiana coastline have been closed down due to the tar and it is unknown when the beaches will reopen. Commercial fishing is also being impacted in the region, with no fishing allowed within one mile of the coast.
Garrett Graves, a Louisiana official who supervises BP’s cleanup efforts, stated: “BP has up to 1 million barrels of unaccounted oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and I think it will continue to manifest like this hurricane for ten to twenty years unless BP goes out and does a proactive cleanup effort.”
BP has indicated that the presence of this tar is due to the inability to properly remove it from the oceans due to a lack of technology. A BP cleanup official in Louisiana, Mike Harrison, stated: “The vast majority of our cleanup activities have reached end points in most of the states. I do not believe that this is something that is hazardous nor humans should be concerned about.”
Residents and officials alike have criticized the BP cleanup effort, especially in light of the recent tar appearance. Thus far BP has spent approximately $14 million in cleaning up after their spill.