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A decade later, lessons keep coming from BP disaster

Since 2010, more than 136,000 acres along the Gulf Coast has been set up for bird migration and...
Since 2010, more than 136,000 acres along the Gulf Coast has been set up for bird migration and nesting.(wlox)
Updated: Apr. 20, 2020 at 2:08 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill turned out to be disastrous for humans, the environment and the local economy.

Ten years later, the event is still being studied and diagnosed. For some, the images from April 20, 2010 and beyond are as vivid as they were back then. The explosion killed 11, injured dozens, and caused 5 million barrels of oil to flow into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days.

“I prefer to use April 20th as the day to remember because there were 11 lives lost during that explosion. And I’d like to think of April 20th as that moment we remember that human toll,” said Dr. Monty Graham, marine science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. “I think there were huge lessons we were taught during Deepwater Horizon that we need to learn, especially from that human toll.”

Graham and others say those ecological and environmental lessons learned include just how widespread the impact was, with 1,300 miles of coastline affected. But he says it's also deep below the water's surface where the impact is still ongoing.

“What we’ve learned about it is, very near to the surface and to the Coast, it’s a very resilient environment,” Graham added. “We have to remember that this oil was released about a mile below the ocean’s surface, and there are communities, ecosystems at that depth that just don’t function fast because it’s so cold and so dark, and when you do things like an oil spill, it could take many decades for them to fully recover.”

Above the surface, animal habitat recovery can be seen, and in many cases, that effort is for the birds. Since 2010, more than $137,000 acres of Coastline has been set up for bird nesting areas and migration zones.

“There’s been excellent progress made in habitat restoration, enhancement for birds for also people as well,” said Sarah Pacyna, Coastal Bird Stewardship program manager in Audubon Mississippi. “It provides a good buffer from storms, recreational space, but it also does help our birds.”

Also, helping birds, people and the Coast’s ecology are the millions in BP settlement funds bookmarked for continued recovery.

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