The worst environmental disaster in U.S. history—the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico—happened five years ago today. For Grist, Brentin Mock, who reported on the explosion that resulted in the leakage of 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, the deaths of 11 people and thousands of animals, the abnormal development of fish in the area, the loss of livelihood for fishermen and oystermen, and the exploitation of workers of color, recalls:
We didn’t actually know that this was an emergency event until days after the explosion, mainly because BP worked hard to dupe the public into believing that this was a minor thing — a spill no different than the ones Gulf Coasters were used to. The company branded the disaster as an “incident” or an “accident,” just one of the unfortunate costs of doing business. Anything but what a federal judge ultimately found, which is that BP was actually liable for “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct” last September — language confirming that there was nothing accidental about this.
Mock goes on to list five legal, civic, political and scientific tools that might lead to the restoration of the Gulf Coast including the proper implementation of the RESTORE Act and the continuation of legal pressure on BP to settle individual claims. Read the list here.