It’s been just a little over three years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also known as the Macondo blowout), the largest, most devastating marine oil spill in history, devastated the Gulf of Mexico. With 200 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline still oil polluted, restoration of natural habitat, local communities and the fishing and tourism industries still has a long and very costly way to go. While BP agreed to allocate $1 billion in restoration funds throughout the Gulf of Mexico in April 2011, until recently the company had approved only $70 million in restoration projects in the state of Louisiana, which took the worst of the spill. However, Gov. Bobby Jindal recently announced that BP has agreed to provide $340 million in restoration projects in The Pelican State, declaring, “We must aggressively move forward on these and other important restoration projects to ensure future generations have the same great opportunities.” He added: “This announcement today makes a great stride forward, but this marathon is far from over.”
The $340 million will go toward restoring four barrier islands from Terrebonne Parish to the eastern bank of Plaquemines Parish and two Fish Stock Research and Enhancement Centers: one in Lake Charles in Calcasieu Parish and one in Point a la Hache in Plaquemines Parish. The two centers will cost $22 million.
The restoration of the four barrier islands will take up the larger chunk of the funds and contains the following components:
- Caillou Lake Headlands Component (also known as Whiskey Island). The $110 million Terrebonne Parish will restore beaches, dunes and back-barrier marshes.
- Shell Island Component in Barataria Bay, Plaquemines Parish. The restoration of back-barrier marsh and dunes and beach on the east and west lobes will cost $101 million.
- Breton Island Component in Breton Sound, Plaquemines Parish. A $72 million project to restore and protect beach, marsh and dune in the Breton Wildlife Refuge. The project is in its last configuration phase.
- Cheniere Ronquille Component, also in Barataria Bay, Plaquemines Parish. The $35 million allocation will cover the construction of beaches, dunes and back-barrier marshes.
Following the spill in 2010, Louisiana was the first state to request BP to fund restoration projects immediately. BP agreed to allocate $1 billion in restoration funds the following year. In July 2011, Gov. Bobby Jindal released the “Louisiana Plan,” an initial list of priority projects to be funded from the BP payments. The list was compiled with input from various stakeholders, such as coastal residents, fishermen and parish officials.
During the 87 days during which the oil gusher flowed unrestricted, an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the ocean. Oil discharge continued after the July 2010 capping of the oil gusher, and even though officially the well was declared sealed off in September 2010, some reports indicate the site could still be leaking.
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Photo courtesy of NASA via Wikimedia Commons