Contact: Dan Favre, 504-525-1528 x 209, email@example.com
Not 60 miles south of the downtown New Orleans courthouse that has been the scene of competing statements and testimony over the past 4 days about BP's lack of commitment to safe drilling, there lies a clear reminder of the outcome of BP's grossly negligent actions.
Thousands of tarballs litter Elmer's Island, recently distributed along the Louisiana barrier island by a storm system that moved through the Gulf of Mexico. Over the last three years, past storms have consistently pushed ashore BP tarballs and revealed buried tar mats.
The Gulf Restoration Network's field monitoring program, started in April 2010 to respond to BP's oil drilling disaster, documented the tarballs yesterday.
"They stretch as far as the eye can see along Elmer's Island," states Jonathan Henderson, GRN's Coastal Resiliency Organizer.
Photos are available for media use, with credit to Gulf Restoration Network
"We can't let the legal wrangling distract completely from the real world impact of BP's reckless decision making," stated Deputy Director Aaron Viles. "The BP drilling disaster is still happening, still affecting our coast and communities."
BP has had a tough few days in court, with experts such as UC Berkley Professor Bob Bea, and driller Alan Huffman of SIGMA Integrated Reservoir Solutions blaming the company for risky behavior, while BP's own former Gulf Vice President Kevin Lacy testified to incessant cost cutbacks to his operations.
GRN guarded against the rumored $16 billion dollar settlement for all fines and penalties. "I've got to imagine the idea of a settlement is appealing to BP right now," stated Viles, "But $16 billion is not enough to hold the company accountable. As the trial continues to make it clear that the company was grossly negligent, they should pay more than that in Clean Water Act penalties alone."
A full accounting of what BP owes brings the total close to $50 billion to finally "make things right" in the Gulf. Along with maximum Clean Water Act fines of nearly $20 billion, there is an estimated, based on past spills, $30 billion needed for the Natural Resource Damage process to restore what BP's oil has affected as required under the Oil Pollution Act.
Finished Viles, "Justice for the Gulf and all the communities BP has devastated demands full transparency and complete accountability. We need to learn the lessons of this disaster and demand more of the industry while restoring the ecosystem BP and their colleagues have further threatened."
For hi-res photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/healthygulf/sets/72157632873372499/
GRN also has tarball samples from yesterday's field monitoring trip that can be viewed in New Orleans. Contact us for more details.