A bird drenched in oil after the BP oil spill disaster in 2010 off the US coast of Gulf of Mexico (File photo)
Two years after a major oil spill off the US coast of Gulf of Mexico, a new study has found that the disaster has sped up the loss of fragile marshlands in the southern state of Louisiana.
According to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
journal on Monday, in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, oiled marshes eroded at about twice the rate of non-oiled marshes following the deadly explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in 2010.
Researchers suggested that when the oil is washed into the marshlands it kills thick grasses and leads to the death of the plants’ roots, destroying shore banks of the wetland.
“Doubling the rate of erosion is a huge number… It’s very significant in areas where you have erosion anyway” said Zoe Hughes, a marsh researcher at Boston University.
This comes while as experts say, the salt marshes of Louisiana are “lifeblood” for the state because shrimp, oysters, clams and fish hatch their young in the wetland, making the areas vital to the state’s fishing industry.
The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and spewing more than 200 million gallons of oil from an undersea well owned by British Petroleum (BP PLC). The oil leak is described as the worst environmental disaster in the US history.
On March 2, BP agreed to pay USD 7.8 billion to settle a lawsuit with thousands of individuals affected by the oil spill disaster.