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Impacts of the Gulf Oil Spill

Fri, 11/16/2012 - 5:14am
The Associated Press

BP

BP has agreed to pay a $4.5 billion settlement with the U.S. government over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, sank in an explosion on April 20, 2010, spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killing wildlife and shutting vast areas of the Gulf to commercial fishing for months.

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Here's a look back at some of the impacts:

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OIL

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The Macondo wellhead released 210 million gallons of oil during the spill. Of that, 172 million gallons were released directly into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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DEATHS & INJURIES

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The Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 rig workers and injured 17 others. Two BP well-site leaders have now been charged with manslaughter and a BP executive has been indicted on charges he lied to authorities.

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WILDLIFE

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials documented 6,104 dead birds, 609 dead sea turtles and 100 dead mammals, including dolphins, from the impacted area. Experts also collected 456 living sea turtles and 2,079 birds that were visibly oiled.

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ECOSYSTEM

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The oil soiled sensitive tidal estuaries and beaches, severely affecting the edges of saltwater and brackish marshes. Sand beaches, barrier islands, tidal mud flats and mangrove stands in five coastal states were damaged.

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ECONOMY

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Sullied waters and health concerns shut down commercial fishing in the region for months, putting thousands of shrimpers and fishermen out of work. Charter captains, property owners, environmental groups, restaurants, hotels and other tourism businesses all claimed they suffered economic losses after the spill.

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RESPONSE & CLEANUP

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At the peak of the crisis, the response effort involved 48,200 people, 9,700 vessels and 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants. The Coast Guard helped burn 265,450 barrels of oil using controlled fires.

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