–Bradenton Herald Editorial: Florida still in grip of 2010 BP oil spill

March 11, 2014 Updated 2 hours ago

The offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon burns in the Gulf of Mexico April 21, 2010. A huge oil slick remained offshore and largely stationary two weeks later, which helped cleanup efforts. JON T. FRITZ/MCT JON T. FRITZ – MCT

A confluence of developments over the past week show once again that Florida remains in the grip of the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Including Manatee County.

With the state of Florida joining a multistate lawsuit against British oil company BP, a new study showing sick fish as far south as Sanibel, and a giant tar mat washing ashore off Pensacola Beach, we’re reminded that this catastrophe has not disappeared.

And Floridians should also know that the specter of offshore drilling along the Atlantic Ocean has returned. The Obama administration has opened the door to seismic surveys for oil and gas ranges from Delaware to Cape Coral.

But a new study by the University of South Florida found that dissolved oil from the millions of gallons that spewed from BP’s Macondo well sickened fish and diminished their immune systems past Manatee County further south.

The USF study, published last week in the scientific journal Deep-Sea Research, connects the diseased fish to the hydrocarbons similar to the BP oil. The company disputes those claims.

The USF study also concluded that those hydrocarbons likely entered Tampa Bay as well as polluting the waters all the way down to Sanibel. That makes Manatee County a prime pollution place, too.

Florida’s entry into the multistate federal litigation involving the Deepwater Horizon spill is a welcome sign toward environmental restoration. This lawsuit is separate case, filed last year, from the state’s against BP over economic losses.

The BP oil spill has not simply washed away, dissipated by ocean currents and such. Not when measured by a 1,250-pound tar mat that found its way onto the beach at Pensacola Beach just last week.

About 9-foot-wide and 9-foot-long, as the Tampa Bay Times reported, this gooey slick, too, serves as a reminder that the oil’s impact will be felt for years and years.

Oil wetlands
An oil sheen is seen as oil oozes from the marsh platform along the shoreline of Bay Jimmy, which was heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Plaquemines Parish, La., Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. The methods that BP employed during its 86-day struggle to stop oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico will be the focus of a trial resuming Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 in New Orleans, in the high-stakes litigation spawned by the worst offshore spill in the United States. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) GERALD HERBERT — AP

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This is good reason for the U.S. Interior Department to reject opening up part of the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas exploration after 2017. Why harm sea creatures with underwater explosions during tests, likely injuring whales and dolphins?

Haven’t we learned the lesson from the BP oil spill? We’re still finding out about the ramifications from ocean drilling in our diet and environment, so let’s not revisit that nightmare.

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Special thanks to Richard Charter

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