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BP Officials Downplay Impact of Massive Oil Spill

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As environmental agencies and government officials become increasingly concerned about the remnants of the BP oil spill reaching the Florida Keys and the east coast the United States, federal authorities, yesterday, increased the no fishing zone. The area closed now encompasses 45,728 square miles and 19% of the Gulf of Mexico.

But despite growing evidence of the lasting effects of this environmental catastrophe, BP chief Tony Hayward told the Associated Foreign Press, "everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact will be very, very modest." A simple review of the statistics that have been compiled from this incident, however, speak for themselves and indicate anything but a "modest" environment impact:

  • 11 crewmembers aboard Deepwater Horizon dead
  • Approximately 94,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf already
  • Another 5,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf each day
  • 2,500 BP employees from around the world drafted to help with the clean-up
  • 200 vessels used to find the source of the spill and assisting in clean-up efforts
  • 400,000 gallons of oil dispersant released into the Gulf
  • 154 sea turtles, 12 dolphins and 23 sea birds found dead

What's more, these statistics are only preliminary and do not demonstrate the potentially far-reaching effects this catastrophic event may yet have. In fact, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould has suggested that the extent of the spill's devastation could span decades and may never be fully documented because many affected animals live offshore. Moreover, questions about the air, water and seafood contamination have not been answered and the possible health impacts on residents in the Gulf Coast community remain unclear.

As President Obama indicated last week, "for too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore."

This federal agency is the Minerals Management Service, which failed to listen to a former BP subcontractor who warned about safety violations occurring on another BP rig, Atlantis. As President Obama has stated, we cannot continue to rely on blanket assurances from BP regarding the environmental impact of this catastrophe. BP must take responsibility for its actions and conduct investigations to provide the public with answers regarding the devastating environmental and economic effects associated with the oil spill.

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