Congress on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: dismal assessment almost 3 years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster
By Danielle Giroux and Sylvain Archambault,
Co-spokespersons for the St. Lawrence Coalition
More than 1000 scientists gathered in the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana (21-23 January 2013) for an update on the status of the situation after the April 20th oil spill 2010.
The St. Lawrence Coalition participated in the event and gave a lecture. We report here the grim toll of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its communities.
We would have wished to be reassured, but the impacts are even more extensive and important than what we thought. The list is long: loss of biodiversity, increased erosion of marshes, dramatic drop in shrimp populations in some areas, markets still closed in some areas, fishing boats for sale, communities and families devastated, physical and mental health problems, financial stress, many terrestrial and marine organisms affected, whether bacteria, insects, plankton, coral, jellyfish, fish, shellfish, birds, etc.
The worst thing is that it is not over! The dispersant has fragmented the oil that is now found in the sediment at the bottom of the sea. During storms, it goes back up, therefore exposing marine and terrestrial organisms again, not to mention the marshes that are still contaminated.
The lack of knowledge of the state of the Gulf before the spill poses a major problem for scientists who have little comparative data to carry out their work. Despite hundreds of ongoing research, science still offers little answers to many questions. Decades may be needed before drawing a proper assessment of the impacts.
The St. Lawrence Coalition was invited to give a lecture that was given by Sylvain Archambault. A poster was also presented by the Coalition. People’s reaction to our presentation was fantastic! We received a lot of support from scientists who told us not to repeat the mistake of the Gulf of Mexico and not to start drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as it is not too late for us. A scientist of BP congratulated us for our presentation and warned us about drilling in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Moreover, it was disturbing to hear Dr. John Farrigton, a leading oceanographer, telling us that there is a reasonable chance that a similar accident occurs.
We learned from this experience that the impacts of the spill are unknown, tragic and devastating at all levels: social, environmental and economic. The situation is far from being restored. We also learned that the experience of the tragic oil spill will probably allow Americans to be better prepared to face a new catastrophe, but unfortunately not avoid it.
– There are approximately 4,000 wells in the Gulf of Mexico
– Only 38% of 947,892 claims have been settled to date
– Economic impact of the oil spill on fisheries estimated at $ 8.7 billion.
– Level of consumer confidence after the spill: in 2012, only 23% of consumers believe that the seafood is safe
– The dispersant and oil are more toxic than the dispersant or oil alone
– Cost of oil spill: $ 40 billion.