National Wildlife Federation warns of continued pollution 2 years after Deepwater Horizon disaster

04/19/12 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

Two years ago tomorrow the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 rig workers and setting off the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.

The National Wildlife Federation has been studying the effects of the spill on plants, animals and ecosystems of the Gulf. Doug Inkley is their senior wildlife biologist.

Tomorrow we’ll bring you the second half of this interview where Inkley talks about the effects of dispersants on marine life, how corals were affected by the spill and what actions could still be taken.

“Even the seriousness of this oil spill, it’s very difficult for me to call this an anniversary but the National Wildlife. But what the National Wildlife Federation has done is released a report that I authored called A Degraded Gulf of Mexico: Wildlife and Wetlands Two Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster. What I do in this report is I give an overview of the status of wetlands as well as five species groups, overall in the Gulf but also as a result of the oil spill that occurred. The main message that I think we need to understand is that this oil spill is not over. It is far from over. We do expect that the impact will last for years, if not, decades. The evidence that has been released to date is giving us indications that unfortunately this is very much true.”

What are some of the effects that your finding on wetlands for example?

“The national wildlife federation had a team on the ground just last March in the year 2012. Where we went there was oil still oozing out of the wetlands. We found an oil bird. There are still problems that are occurring there. One of the issues is that a lot of the information that’s being collected is not being released to the general public. Under the Clean Water Act and also the Oil Spill Pollution Act, the federal government undertaking a natural resources damage assessment to determine the impacts of the oil spill. Most of that information is being held secret. Its being held confidential because of the legal proceedings that are going to be coming up against BP. We need to have that information released because these are waters on the United States. There your waters, there my waters. The wildlife are not owned by BP or the federal government, there owned by all of us. So we need to have this information released so we can have a better understanding and so we can develop an appropriate response to this bill that occurred.”

You said you’re looking at five particular species or species groups, what are some of those groups and what are the effects that you’re seeing?

“One of the species groups that I’m most concerned about is of course the dolphins. People that live in the Gulf Coast area are familiar with stranded dolphins, usually where most of them are dead wash up on the beaches. In the last 26 months, 24 of which have been since the oil spill started, there have been hundreds and hundreds of dolphins washed up on the shores. This is far above historic averages, 4 times greater than the historic average for a similar mortality event. This mortality event of 26 months is 2 ½ times longer than any other previously observed mortality event. Clearly the oil spill is very suspect in causing this “unprecedented” as the government calls it, this unprecedented die-off of dolphins.”

There are some reports of fish in the Gulf of Mexico that have large open sores and strange black streaks. Do you know if that’s attributable to the Gulf oil spill, the deep water horizon spill?

"There are some reports of fish in the Gulf of Mexico that have large open sores and strange black streaks. Do you know if that’s attributable to the Gulf oil spill, the deep water horizon spill? “I do not. I have heard several reports of fish with lesions however I’ve been unable to find scientific data to substantiate that or to identify what was the cause of those lesions where people were able to collect the fish. This is why I’m pushing for the natural resource assessment information to be released. I simply don’t have the scientific information available to me to say that the problems being reported can be attributed to the Gulf oil spill because its not being made available."

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