Oil Spill Update
An update, one year later
A year after the Deepwater Horizon well gushed 5 million barrels — more than 200 million gallons — of oil into the Gulf, the beaches of northwest Florida are again pristine, tourism business has returned, and BP has paid out more than $2 billion in
Florida damage claims. But the spill's aftermath still includes plenty of loose ends, starting with unsettled claims and extending to the lack of a full understanding of the spill's environmental impact, which may take years to assess. A year later, here's what you need to know.
A Year Ago
"I came out here on June 23rd. It was a Wednesday, and I couldn't find a speck of white sand for 60 feet inshore. We had daily cleanup for the next three months."
— Buck Lee, executive director of the
Santa Rosa Island Authority,
"Everything's gorgeous. Our business since February has been back to better than it's ever been. They come every morning to see if any tar balls came ashore; on the eight miles, they might occasionally get 5 pounds a mile.''
— Buck Lee
Gulf Coast Claims Facility Payments
The largest category of BP payments in Florida, at $2 billion, has been to individuals and businesses negatively impacted economically by the oil spill. The distribution of the payments reflects the fact that while 98% of the oil and residue that flowed onto Florida beaches from the Deepwater Horizon accident landed on the shores of Escambia County, the economic impact spilled all along the Gulf — most heavily on the counties of northwest Florida but extending all the way to Collier and Lee counties, where tourism-related businesses suffered from travelers' fears about possible contamination.
"Perception is the biggest challenge,'' says Craig Savage, director of media relations and communications for the Florida BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. BP has made payments through the Gulf Coast Claims Facility.
Pensacola Beach in March [Photo: Cheryl Casey/Shutterstock]
Payments to the State
BP payments to Florida
totaled $2.2 billion as of
July 21. Here's the breakdown:
» Government payments — $82 million
» Cleanup vessels — $73 million
» Tourism payments — $42 million
» Research payments — $10 million
» Natural resource damage assessment payments — $8 million
» Seafood testing/marketing — $5 million
» Behavioral health — $3 million
» Contributions — $300,000
Local Government Payments
Local governments received $31.9 million as of July 21 to cover spill-related response, removal or increased public service costs. Nearly the entire amount went to five counties in northwest Florida. No county in other parts of Florida collected more than $172,000, paid to Pinellas. Top amounts:
» Bay County — $9.0 million
» Walton County — $5.3 million
» Okaloosa County — $3.9 million
» Franklin County — $2.0 million