Medical and toxicology experts have told Al Jazeera that the oil spill has triggered environmental and human health disasters that will likely span decades [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]
April 20, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of BP's catastrophic oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. On this day in 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing oil to gush from 5,000 feet below the surface into the ninth largest body of water on the planet.
At least 4.9 million barrels of BP's oil would eventually be released into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was capped 87 days later.
It is, to date, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. BP has used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants to sink the oil, in an effort the oil giant claimed was aimed at keeping the oil from reaching shore.
Critics believe the chemical dispersants were used simply to hide the oil and minimise BP's responsibility for environmental fines.
Earlier this month Transocean Ltd, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, gave its top executives bonuses for achieving what it described as the "best year in safety performance in our company's history". Transocean CEO Steve Newman's bonus was $374,062.
BP has plans to restart deepwater drilling on 10 wells in the Gulf of Mexico this summer after being granted permission by US regulators.
Meanwhile, marine and wildlife biologists, toxicologists, and medical doctors have described the impact of the disaster upon the environment and human health as "catastrophic," and have told Al Jazeera that this is only the beginning of that what they expect to be an environmental and human health crisis that will likely span decades.
The demise of gulf vertebrates
Less than four months after the disaster began, very large fish-kills began to appear along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
On August 18, a team from Georgia Sea Grant and the University of Georgia released a report that estimated 70-79 per cent of the oil that gushed from the well "has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem". More recent studies estimate that figure could be closer to 90 per cent.
Dr Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, as well as a marine and oyster biologist, has "great concern" about the fish kills over the last year, which he feels are likely directly related to the BP oil disaster.In recent months, more than 290 corpses of dolphins and their newborn have washed ashore in the areas of the Gulf most heavily affected by the disaster, along with scores of dead endangered sea turtles.(CONTINUED ON AL JAZEERA HERE)