(MintPress) – The rosy commercials painting British Petroleum (BP) as a company looking out for the well-being of the environment aren’t working on activists calling for the oil giant to pay an additional $25 billion to restore environmental damage caused by its 2010 Gulf oil spill.
BP will head to a New Orleans civil court next week where it’s facing a potential $17.6 billion in additional fines — a figure that’s excluded from the additional $25 billion environmentalists are calling for.
The National Wildlife Federation is just one of the organizations calling out BP for not being given their fair share of the bill in the cleanup. Vice president of the organization, John Kostyack, told The Guardian that the price tag may seem like a lot, but it’s right in line with the damage inflicted.
“If you look at about $25 billion, that at least gets you in the right scale of payments,” he said.
Kostyack used the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill as his pacesetter, looking at the environmental damage inflicted by that disaster and calculating the future costs of those inflicted by BP in 2010. The Exxon Valdez spill led to 11 million gallons of crude oil leaking into the waters surrounding Alaska. The BP spill leaked 4.9 million barrels of oil over the course of three months. BP, however, has disputed this figure.
“Oil does a lot of serious damage to ecosystems and productivity and fisheries,” Kostyack said. “A lot of damage reveals itself over time. Many, many gallons of oil still haven’t really rolled into the wetlands or beaches. They are still working their way through the system, and we need to include problems that surface over time.”
In the case of the Exxon oil spill, researchers discovered just that — even after cleanup, the damaging impacts continue, requiring even more cleanup efforts decades down the road. A 2001 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study took a look at 96 sites along 8,000 miles of coastline near the spill.
The discovery? Buried, vulnerable oil.
“Subsurface oil can remain dormant for many years before being dispersed and is more liquid, still toxic, and may become biologically available,” the Encyclopedia of Earth states. “A disturbance event such as burrowing animals or a severe storm reworks the beach and can reintroduce unweathered oil into the water.”
These are the concerns that could arise years — even decades — down the road, and environmentalists want this tab to be picked up by BP.
Aside from the civil challenges, BP is also in closed negotiations with the federal government regarding coastal restoration.
According to BP, the company has spent $14 billion on “response activities.”
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