It was 12 months ago when the Gulf of Mexico was hit by the biggest environmental disaster in American history.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 people and spitting nearly five million barrels of crude into the sea. It wreaked havoc upon Louisiana’s coastal communities, driving away tourists and crippling the state’s key fishing industry. It took the British oil giant BP four months to cap the leak. They then set up a 20-billion-dollar fund to compensate those affected.
Louisiana’s fishermen complain of the lengthy delays and the hefty paperwork required to stake their claims. The facility has paid out just $3.9 billion (2.68 billion euros) to 177,00 claimants. A further 80,000 claims have been lodged so far, while 43,000 have been returned to request more information.
Fishermen fear the spill will cause long-term damage to the Gulf’s sea life. Experts say that threat will be exacerbated by the 7.5 million litres of chemical dispersant used to try to keep the oil from reaching the shore.