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Extensive Research on BP Oil Spill Kept Confidential by Federal and State Agencies

By Rhonda Miller | Published 18 Apr 2012 08:23pm | comments
Read Hendon of the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs

A lot of questions remain two years after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and more than 200 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports scientists say it’s going to be long time until the impact of the spill is known.

At the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, Read Hendon, waves his arm over the expanse of waterfront.  

"Yeah, a lot of natural marsh here, we do a lot of adult finfish sampling here, looking primarily at spotted sea trout, speckled trout and red drum."

Hendon is director of the Center for Fisheries Research and Development. He says the lab is doing a lot of confidential research on the impact of the BP oil spill.

"We’re still very actively involved in the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process. We’re working very closely with Department of Environmental Quality for the state of Mississippi, as well as the Department of Marine Resources, to a lesser extent to the National Marine Fisheries Service."

In spite of all that research, most of it is not released to the public because it will be used as evidence in lawsuits against BP.  Some Mississippi Gulf Coast residents, like Terese Collins of Gulf Islands Conservancy, would like her questions answered.

"Why are the dolphins and turtles still dying and what impact does that have on our fisheries and the food chain in general and the public at large?"

Even though the public might be impatient, chairman of the Department of Marine Science at the University of Southern Mississippi, Monty Graham, says in the long-run,  the research will help address issues that have long been causing stress to the Gulf ecosystem.

"We have vast areas of oil and gas reserves that are being drilled for and we have navigation channels and dredging and wetlands loss and subsidence."

Many scientists say even though much of the oil spill research is confidential, state and federal agencies continuously test water and seafood and to make sure it is safe for the public.

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Read Hendon of the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs


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