Thursday, April 21, 2011

normal?': Day after scientists hail recovery of Gulf Coast, new pictures show the real damage

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER Last updated at 1:06 PM on 20th April 2011

These are the shocking images of the long term damage last year's BP oil spill has done to the Gulf coastline.

Coming a day after scientists said Gulf of Mexico surface water was 'almost back to normal', these shots paint a very different picture of how wild life and fauna in the affected zones have fared a year on from the Deep Water Horizon accident.

Only yesterday, more than three dozen scientists graded the Gulf's health a 68 on average, using a 1-to-100 scale. This is just below the 71 grade the same researchers last summer said they would give the ecosystem before the spill.

But despite the optimistic analysis for marine life, the shore line has suffered far more long lasting damage from the cloying oil.

Damage: Shots from May 2010 (left) and April 2011(right) Scientists said Cat island is significantly eroded, with much of the mangrove dead or dying because the island was completely overwashed by the oil

Washed away: Shots from May 2010 (left) and April 2011(right). Biologists from the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife say poorly maintained oil booms contributed to the damage

On April 20 last year BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, spewing 172 million gallons of oil into the surrounding sea.

The resulting fire could not be extinguished and, on 22 April 2010, Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the sea floor and causing the largest offshore oil spill in United States history.

Barren: Brown pelican nests as well at terns, gulls and roseate spoonbills, are seen here on May 22, 2010, left. The second photo, taken April 8, 2011 in the same location, shows dead mangrove stumps sticking out of the water
Contrast: The , left, May 2010 photo shows birds nesting just after the spill hits the shore line. The second photo taken on April 8, 2011 near the same location, shows the shoreline heavily erodedContrast: The, left, May 2010 photo shows birds nesting just after the spill hits the shore line. The second photo taken on April 8, 2011 near the same location, shows the shoreline heavily erode.

Ironically, one of the rig's operators, Transocean, has given staff big payouts for achieving the 'best year in safety performance in our company's history.'Transocean gave it most senior managers, two thirds of the total possible safety bonus, according to papers filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It noted 'the tragic loss of life' in the Gulf, but said the company still had an 'exemplary' safety record because it met or exceeded certain internal safety targets. William Reilly, co-chairman of the White House commission that investigated the oil spill, said that Transocean's comments were ‘embarrassing’. ‘It's been said with respect to the disaster that some companies just don't get it - I think Transocean just doesn't get it,’ Reilly said. BP is spending around $41billion on cleaning up the spill and to cover damages, but investigations into the disaster are far from over. News of the Gulf of Mexico drilling is expected to outrage environmentalists, but comes as a welcome development for the embattled oil firm. The company is also reeling after a Swedish tribunal last month ruled a £10billion deal between BP and Russia's Rosneft should be put on hold because of a dispute with shareholders at Russian partner TNK-BP. It has put the group's shares under pressure and led to doubts over chief executive Bob Dudley, who replaced Mr Hayward following the Gulf spill.                                    

Only this month their were rumours BP would start drilling in the region again. BP, the largest holder of deepwater acreage in the Gulf of Mexico, is a partner in a well operated by Noble Energy, which has received the first permit to since a drilling ban imposed after the Deep Water Horizion incident ended.

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