Friday marks the two-year anniversary of the massive BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast. While the FDA says the local fish are safe to eat, several new reports suggest that local wildlife and the overall environment continue to suffer from damaging effects of what many consider the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
The Associated Press reports that a number of fish in the Gulf are suffering from visible maladies, including, "open sores, parasitic infections, chewed-up-looking fins, gashes," and " "mysterious black streaks" along their bodies.
On Wednesday, BP sealed an out-of-court settlement for $7.8 billion with lawyers representing thousands of individuals and businesses affected by the spill. However, the company released a statement insisting that seafood in the region was safe for human consumption.
"Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world, and, according to the FDA and NOAA, it is as safe now as it was before the accident," the statement reads.
While the evidence of continued and extensive environmental damage is "nowhere near conclusive," the damage appears to have extended beyond marine life to the Gulf's deep-water coral, seaweed beds and other species of plants.
There is lots of circumstantial evidence that something is still awry," said Christopher D'Elia, dean of Louisiana State University's School of the Coast and Environment. "On the whole, it is not as much environmental damage as originally projected. Doesn't mean there is none."
A federally funded study conducted last summer by scientists found that 3 percent of sampled fish had gashes, ulcers and parasites symptomatic of environmental contamination, according to lead researcher Steve Murawski, a biologist at the University of South Florida.
"The closer to the oil rig, the higher the frequency was" of sick fish, Murawski said.
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