Since more than four months, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico dominated the headlines. British Petroleum (BP) struggled with its international reputation and profit margins as it attempted to solve the problem a drilling rig explosion caused. By July 15, 2010 when the oil well was capped, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was determined to be the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. However, while the debt raged about the overall environmental impact of the spill, it was not until recently that the full social impact of the spill was considered. As a result of the spill, other industries, tourism, jobs and health of the people of the Gulf region would be affected.
Industries and Tourism
Soon after the BP spill occurred, states such as Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida began to worry about the effect the massive oil spill would have on its industries and people. By April 29, 2010, Louisiana’s Governor had already declared a state of emergency in his state. Oil had washed up on shores, into wildlife refuges, beaches, and seafood grounds. By May, commercial and recreational fishing was affected from Mississippi to Florida. Tourism, which is important to these Gulf Coast states, was affected by cancelled vacations. Over the next three years, the BP spill could cost the Gulf Coast states $ 23 billion.
For the fishing industry, bans on fishing will impact food supplies as well. Samplings taken from Gulf found that many of the areas have unacceptable levels of contamination. The financial impact could cost the industry billions.
In a time of economic recession, jobs are important. After the BP spill, jobs in the fishing, tourism and even oil industry are in jeopardy. The negative publicity regarding the spill has hurt those people with BP franchises. Slow sales may force many to abandon their businesses. For those employed in other areas of the oil industry, public anger about the crisis threatens whether off shore drilling will continue.
And the seafood industry, which has suffered from incredible natural disasters over the past several years, now has to deal with the consequences of this unnatural disaster. Shrimp, crab and oyster farmers and harvesters now have contaminated seas and estuaries.
As people worry over jobs and lost livelihoods, they also realize that the impact of the spill travels from the seas to American tables. With a dramatic drop in shrimp, fish, and other types of seafood from the Gulf, Americans and other international markets will be hurt. Prices will increase.
As early as June 2010, reports began to surface of yet another problem caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill. BP workers and people in the affected communities began reporting health problems. Symptoms of nausea, dehydration, dizziness, headaches, chest pains and vomiting began to surface. Since the spill and related clean up also released chemicals into the environment, the full health impact on the reason may not be known for many years.
The BP oil spill was an international disaster which has hurt international industries, employment, food supplies and the general health of the people who live in the Gulf region. While BP seeks to make amends for the environmental crises, the true human cost may not be known for generations to come.