BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ranks as the worst man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history. At Green & Clean, we covered the spill extensively and were met with criticism when we brought to light simple, effective non-toxic ways to help clean-up efforts. So here we are two years after the spill, and BP’s profits are soaring while the seafood ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico is turning into mutated monstrosities that would make the Syfy channel blush. Does BP deserve the right to return to its glory days?
Let’s start with the good news. Forbes has the inside track into BP’s turnaround with its recent story, Two Years After the Spill BP Has A Secret: It’s Booming.
In a nutshell, from Forbes:
Last November the Coast Guard approved BP’s plan to switch most of its coastline efforts from cleanup to monitoring. The same month BP started drilling its first new postspill well, in 6,000 feet of water at the Kaskida field. In March BP reached a tentative $7.8 billion settlement with roughly 100,000 fishermen, hoteliers and other plaintiffs, avoiding months of courtroom wrangling. That’s on top of $14 billion already spent on cleanup and $8.3 billion on damage payouts. Tourists are again returning to Gulf beaches, as drill bits turn offshore.
In 2011, BP reversed the previous year’s $3.3 billion net loss, posting $26 billion in income, with promises of a further profit surge in the years ahead, thanks to high gasoline prices and a new slate of projects coming online. According to Forbes, BP’s turnaround “ranks among the more incredible corporate comeback stories in business history.”
I’d love to keep drilling down into the good news; this truly is a remarkable corporate turnaround story from a financial perspective. But there’s also a high moral price BP needs to clean up. I’m not sure that’s been satisfied yet if we’re to believe a damning piece from Al Jazeera titled The BP Oil Spill: Two Years On.
Al Jazeera paid a recent visit to the Louisiana Gulf to see how things are progressing. What the news source found is not pretty — unless you consider “shrimp without eyes, crabs without claws and a fishing industry in decline” a thing of beauty: “Gulf oil drillers are having their busiest year since 2010, but fishermen say their businesses are still suffering and scientists report seeing a disturbing amount of mutated sea life.”
At the top of this story, I mentioned the non-toxic solutions available to clean up oil spills. While some of the suggestions were a bit offbeat, we were trying to make a point: There are safer, much more effective solutions available than the nearly 2 million gallons of highly toxic dispersant BP used to break up the 4.9 million barrels of light sweet crude that flowed into the Gulf of Mexico and onto the U.S. coastline.
Yet none of those solutions were used. And now the area that produces 40 percent of the seafood for the U.S. is breeding sick, diseased, mutated offspring that scientists attribute to oil and dispersants.
While “the rich ecosystems of Louisiana’s marshlands have been damaged and are struggling to recover,” Al Jazeera noted that “just one or two contaminated species can affect the entire food chain.”
BP claims seafood samples from reopened Gulf waters are continuously tested and safe.
Does the oil behemoth still deserve to be in the Gulf, “where it remains the leading producer, sucking in 261,000 barrels per day,” according to Forbes?