BP Spill

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Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

More than two years ago, Justice Department officials held a news conference to unveil criminal charges against BP and several executives in connection with the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

But the Department of Justice task force created to hold the company and responsible individuals to account has a track record that's spotty at best.

On Friday, a federal jury in New Orleans acquitted the highest-ranking BP executive charged in connection with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, after just five days of trial.

At the Gulf State Park Pier in Orange Beach, Ala., Wetzel Wood casts his fishing line into the rough surf of the Gulf of Mexico. He pulls his bait, a cigar minnow, through the water just beyond where the waves break for the shore.

"On a good day you'd catch king mackerel, Spanish mackerel," he says. Wood first learned to fish at the pier with his grandfather in 1969. "I've seen a lot of different things out here. It's been wonderful."

Billy Nungesser was the President of Plaquemines Parish five years ago when the BP oil disaster happened. Nungesser’s constituency of around 23,000 residents were some of the hardest hit along the Gulf Coast.

For months after the disaster, Nungesser was a constant presence on national television, taking on both industry and government officials over their handling of the spill and cleanup.

In 2010, just after the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, seafood restaurants were bombarded with questions from concerned diners: "How bad is the spill?" "Is this from the Gulf?" "Is it safe?" Demand for Gulf seafood tanked.

"You have to remember, that was literally weeks and months on end when you could turn on the TV at any time of day and see an oil well leaking unabatedly into the Gulf of Mexico," says Brett Anderson, feature food writer for Nola.com.

Five years ago an off-shore explosion killed 11 workers and created a massive 210 million gallon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There have been questions ever since about how the accident could have been prevented and how to improve off-shore safety standards.

Carl Moore started working on off-shore supply boats back in the 1980s.

Five years ago on April 20, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off the Louisiana coast. Scientists are still studying the effects of more than 3 million barrels of oil that a federal court determined gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. And those evaluating the effects on birds are still unsure what to expect.

Oil-covered pelicans became the icons of what happened when the oil seeped into the marshes on the Louisiana coast. That damage was clear.

Monday, April 20 marks the fifth anniversary of the 2010 BP oil spill that sent millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition

What to do with all the billions in Clean Water Act fines to be paid by BP and its contractors for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

Officially, it’s up to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, made up of governors from the five affected states and heads of several federal agencies, to decide.

A coalition of environmental groups has come up with their own ideas for how the first millions can best be spent to restore the coast.

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