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BP Assures Gulf Coast Leaders Restoration Efforts Have Far-Reaching Goals

By Rhonda Miller | Published 01 Mar 2012 08:44pm | comments
Mike Utsler, President of BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, at BP offices in Gulfport.

BP is assuring Gulf Coast business and tourism leaders the oil company is in the restoration process for the long haul. And although it’s been nearly two years since the nation’s worst oil spill, MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports tar balls are still showing up on Mississippi beaches.

BP’s President of the Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, Mike Utsler, said in Gulfport Thursday the major clean-up of the beaches is done, but the company is continuing shoreline maintenance – for example, tar balls recently found on West Ship Island.

"In that particular case of West Ship, the dredging operation by the Corps of Engineers took material right off the edge of the beaches and put it back onto the beaches as a part of a renourishment.  And it, in fact, did have a small area of tar ball material in it. Our crews are going to be going back out and continuing to clean those up. And as these evidences of small tar mats are identified, our crews will continue to be there."

Julia O’Neal is affiliated with the Sierra Club and Gulf Islands Conservancy. She says there’s a lot more restoration to be done on the Gulf Coast.

"I’m really just here because I’m very interested in how the money is being spent and how it’s going to be spent in the future. That’s my main interest."

The owner of the Edgewater Inn in Biloxi, Bob Bennett, is also interested in money – the money his beachfront hotel lost since the BP oil spill. He says his claims for more than $250,000 have not been paid by BP.

"When you hit tourism, you hurt everybody. Every person who lives on the coast suffered, to some degree. Now how do you make up for that? I don’t know. The advertising has been too little and too ill-placed. It has not produced any results that I can see."

BP officials say in addition to restoring the environment of the Gulf Coast, the company is working with communities to rebuild public trust in the beaches, the water and the seafood.




Mike Utsler, President of BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, at BP offices in Gulfport.



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