Impact seas turtles and their nests has also

Impact of the Spill


The effect of the oil spill has been
extremely damaging and toxic. Many studies demonstrated that the oil released
was deadly to many organisms such as plankton, invertebrates, fish, birds, sea
mammals. It affected their growth, reproduction and weakened their health and
mortality rate.

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The oil spill contaminated more than
1,100 miles of coastline, around 1,200 square miles of the deep ocean floor and
68,000 sq. miles of surface water.1
There was some immediate impact seen on animals such as pelicans black with
oil, fish belly filled with brown mud, choked turtles washed up on shores. 


According to Reuters 2015, average deaths
of 63 dolphins were there from 2002 to 2009 in the gulf. The number increased
to 125 in 2010 and 335 in all of 2011. It was a record high number of dolphin
deaths caused by the oil contamination. The number of seas turtles and their
nests has also been reduced since the spill.





More than 1,000 sea turtles were dead and
according to the studies and surveys conducted more than 2,000 sea turtles were
stranded in the Gulf since 2010.2



Natural reserves in the Gulf of Mexico
were also affected by the spill, which included deep ocean habitats, deep
sea-corals, shorebirds, and salt marsh ecosystems. Seabirds were harmed, as a
small amount of oil on their feathers would impede their ability to fly or
swim. Invertebrates present in the Gulf such as shrimps, crabs lobsters were
hard hit by the oil spill and were reduced by 85 percent.


Fishes caught after the spill claimed to
have lesions. Deep-water corals were damaged and there were some signs of
tissue damage and these corals were seen covered by brown substance especially
those that were close to the blowout site.3


Approximately 1 million coastal seabirds
are estimated to have died because of the oil spill. The impacts of the spill
on the fishes are not known. Studies have shown oil released in the ocean can
cause heart defects in the larvae of the Bluefin tuna, amberjack, swordfish and
billfish. There were reports of some deformities in the wildlife creatures
after the spill.4


A major portion of the shoreline of the
Gulf of Mexico was impacted by the oil spill and reports have been showing that
erosion rates in these areas have accelerated in these years and these eroded
shorelines are taking a long time to recover.



These damages caused to the environment
were extensive. The shoreline in Louisiana grew from 287 miles in July to 320
miles in November 2010.5
The spill occurred during the breeding season of many Gulf coast species.

Ecologists feared that spill would impact the entire generations of these



 Environmental Regulation


The release of oil and gas from the BP
drilling machine and release of a large volume of dispersants into the sea were
the two major environmental damages caused because of the BP disaster. These two
kinds of discharges can be regulated by different regulations but in both the
case there was a high level of ignorance and failed to implement the laws
strictly. The laws that governed this had many loopholes.



International conferences and instruments


In the course of time, a complete
regulatory system was developed in the international law to prevent marine
pollution. Special attention was given to the pollution caused by shipping.

However regional treaties prove to be the most effective instrument to prevent
such pollution as it includes a general obligation to the participating states
to prevent, reduce, all forms of marine pollution.1


Specific clauses like the precautionary
concept, polluter pay concept, new technology and practices are incorporated in
the Helsinki convention and the Convention for the
Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR


The International Maritime
Conference in Washington adopted the first international convention on oil
pollution in 1926, but the document was not ratified. Later in the Stockholm
Declaration, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment adopted the
Declaration on the Human Environment and Action Plan. Principles in the Stockholm Declaration
stressed that states shall take all steps to prevent pollution of the sea and
also included clauses of liability and compensation from the polluter.3

The Geneva Convention, 1958 contains
provisions for environmental protection from oil pollution through oil
pipelines and continental shelf development.


The Earth summit of 1992, which took
place in Rio, also adopted several instruments with regard to environment and
development issues. Agenda 214
was one such instrument. Chapter 17 of this was solely devoted to the
protection of the oceans. It stresses the need to prevent marine pollution
arising from vessels installed in the ships








Legal Framework


There were only a
few regulations and laws when oil and gas exploration began in nearshore and
offshore waters. A series of laws evolved over a period of time with an aim to
strengthen the environmental protection regulations and workers safety rights.

Various laws such
as Clean Water Act, National Environment Policy Act, the Coastal Zone
Management Act, the Marine Mammals Protection Act, the Outer Continental Shelf
Lands Act amendments of 1978, and the Oil Pollution Act were enacted to
prevent, reduce and control oil pollution.5 But the political and
economic ties in the Gulf was so strong that these laws were not allowed to get
ahead of the business and trading industry. As a result of compromises between
the industry and government, these laws were not applied strictly in the Gulf

1 Ekaterina Anianova, Oil
Pollution and International Marine Environmental Law, (2006).

2 Anianova , Supra note 11

3 Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment,

4 Agenda 21.

5 Mark Davis, Lessons Unlearned: The Legal and Policy Legacy of the BP
Deepwater Horizon Spill


7 Complaint, United States v. BP Exploration & Prod. Inc.,
(Dec. 15, 2010), Law/USDOJ BP

8 Steve Kellman, Environmental Groups Sue BP Under Clean Water Act, CIRCLE
OF BLUE (June 7, 2010), waternews/20
I0/world/north-American environmental-groups-sue-bp-under-clean-







1 NRDC issue paper, Summary of Information concerning the Ecological and
Economic Impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster, June 2015



2 NRDC, supra note 5

3 Oil invades the coral
communities of the deep, 2016<>

4 The Ocean Portal Team, Gulf Oil Spill <>

5 Christina Ingersoll, Richard M. Locke, Cate Reavis, BP and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster of 2010




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