It was one year ago today (April 20) that BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded in the gulf coast.  The explosion caused the death of eleven workers and spewed an estimated 4.9 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  The world watched in horror the images of the burning oil rig, the massive pool of oil, and the  pitiful wildlife.  British Petroleum (BP) became the enemy as environmental experts agreed that they were not doing enough to contain and clean up the oil spill. BP has since made a commitment to work closely with business that fell victim to the spill.  Three universities,  Texas A&M, Louisiana State and Georgia University,  have been monitoring conditions along the gulf since the event first occurred.  They agree that, while things have improved, there is still much to be concerned about.

Overall Health of the Gulf Coast

They give the overall health of the gulf coast a grade of 67 (out of a 100). While this seems extremely low, the area only rated a 71 before the spill.  They are concerned with the recent mass death of young dolphins and turtles, dead patches on the sea floor, and unusually colored crabs.  While the surface looks as if nothing bad ever happened, it is unknown what damage lies below on the ocean floor, and deep in marshes. See a timeline of the oil spill on Yahoo! News.

Educators Helping to Improve Conditions

Wes Tunnel, a professor at Texas A&M, has worked closely with the federal government. His research has helped the Feds to determine the amount of damage cost in dollars. His findings have been used to determine the amount of monetary rewards to give business affected by the oil spill.  He believes the overall health of the region is close to where it was before the spill. He rated the area as a 70 before; he rates it as a 69 now.

Louisiana State professor, Ed Overton, has watched the gulf eco system for years.  He agrees that the surface is in excellent condition saying that there is not a tar ball in sight. He even claims that some fish, such as the red snapper, have increased in population. However, this  is most likely due to the ban on fishing that had been in place, which gave the population an opportunity to increase naturally.

Less optimistic is Samantha Joye, an eco system researcher with the University of Georgia.  She claims that the oil is still there, only hidden.  She has done extensive research in the region over the last year.  In December, she traveled over 2000 miles around the region and took 250 core samples from the gulf floor.  She has concluded that the gulf floor is oil choked.

All three agree that it may take years, if not decades, to see the full effect of the gulf oil spill. They try to paint an optimistic picture, but they say, truthfully, only time will tell.

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