5 Years After Gulf Oil Spill, BP Spokesman Tells Public Not To Worry About Tar Balls In The Water

CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

An April 21, 2010 file photo shows the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning.

Five years ago, BP’s historic 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill resulted in more than 210 million barrels of oil ending up in the Gulf of Mexico. But while scientists continue to observe ongoing problems, a BP spokesman appeared on ABC’s This Week on Sunday suggesting the remaining oil no longer poses a risk to humans or the aquatic ecosystem.

Alisha Renfro, the Mississippi River Delta Campaign staff scientist for the National Wildlife Federation told a This Week reporter that while you no longer see oil slicked islands today: “You see tar balls that are washing up. And what it points to is the fact that oil is still in the system and, just because we can’t always see it everywhere we go, it’s still out there.”

After Louisiana State University confirmed a sample tar ball as a nearly exact match to the Macondo well oil released during the 2010 spill, BP Senior Vice President of U.S. Communications Geoff Morrell told This Week. “The product that you have in your hand does not pose a threat to human or aquatic life. This, if it’s Macondo oil, is now five years old and likely weathered beyond the point of being harmful.”

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Renfro responded that while the outside of the ball is weathered, “it starts to break apart over time, and the oil compounds–particularly those that are toxic to wildlife, fish, and other organisms — it’s still there.”