BP announced on Tuesday it was ending “active shoreline cleanup” from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 people, spewed millions of gallons of oil, contaminated beaches and ecosystems, and unleashed ongoing threats to marine life.
“Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon accident, BP committed to cleaning the shoreline and supporting the Gulf’s economic and environmental recovery. Completing active cleanup is further indication that we are keeping that commitment,” the oil giant said in a statement.
Yet the response from the U.S. Cocast Guard paints quite a different picture, indicating the response to the disaster is far from over.
Coast Guard Captain Thomas Sparks, the Federal On-Scene Commander for the Deepwater Horizon Response, issued a statement saying, “Our response posture has evolved to target re-oiling events on coastline segments that were previously cleaned.”
“But let me be absolutely clear: This response is not over — not by a long shot. The transition to the Middle Response process does not end clean-up operations, and we continue to hold the responsible party accountable for Deepwater Horizon cleanup costs,” Sparks stated.
At an event, Sparks voiced his displeasure with the announcement from BP.
Speaking to Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) on Wednesday, an “irritated” Sparks said he “was really disappointed and I was shocked when I read some of the stuff in the press yesterday evening,” according to reporting by NOLA.com.
“I had significant problems with some of the facts, a lot of the language, but most of all the overall tone and theme of the responsible party press release,” Sparks continued. “I found it to be very misleading.”
Sparks says the response now involves a more “nimble” tool of focused response equipment and personnel that can provide targeted attention.
“Oil will continue to wash onto our shores,” CPRA Executive Director Kyle Graham said Wednesday at the same event. “We’re going to be seeing oiling from this Deepwater Horizon event for a long, long time.”
This sentiment is echoed by the Gulf Restoration Network, which stresses that nearly four years after Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe erupted, the impacts are ongoing. It’s too soon to be letting BP skirt responsibility for the disaster, and this end to the “active cleanup” phase does just that, the group says.
Jonathan Henderson, the New Orleans-based group’s Coastal Resiliency Organizer and manager of the group’s BP drilling disaster field monitoring operations, told Common Dreams that “anytime there is a storm, you’ll see re-oiling in the form of tar balls.”
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