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BP Gulf oil spill valued at $17.2 billion in damages

BP’s Plc’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill that happened back in 2010 damaged beaches, animals, fish and coral that holds a public value of $17.2 billion, according to financial accounting released on the seventh anniversary of the disaster.

The tally was published Thursday in the journal Science, and its based on a survey of thousands of Americans that asked what they’d be willing to pay to prevent the kind of impacts unleashed by the spill, which started with an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010.

The most damaging oil spill in U.S. history took the lives of 11 rig workers, and released 134 million gallons of crude, covering birds and marine life all across the Gulf. In return, BP, which contracted the rig, was forced to sell off billions of dollars in assets in order to pay for damages The most recent study, ordered by the U.S. government, is the most comprehensive attempt yet to put a value on the environmental losses, said Kevin Boyle, one of the lead researchers.

“The results were eye-opening,” Boyle, an agricultural economist at Virginia Tech University, said in a statement from the school. “People value our natural resources, so it’s worth taking major actions to prevent future catastrophes and correct past mistakes.”

Houston-based spokesman for BP, Brett Clanton, didn’t respond to phone messages seeking comment.

BP has set aside over $50 billion for damages, which includes liabilities beyond ecological impacts, such as economic losses to the fishing and tourism industries. Transocean Ltd., owner of the rig that burned and sank, and Halliburton Co., which provided cement services for the project, paid billions for their roles in the disaster as well.

The study determined that those surveyed would be willing to spend about $153 more in taxes for programs that would prevent a similar situation from occurring. That was then multiplied by the number of households represented by those who completed the survey to come up with the total of $17.2 billion.

After the Deepwater Horizon disaster BP replaced its chief executive officer and created a new safety office with “sweeping powers to oversee and audit its operations,” according to a statement on its website.

“Making BP a safer, more risk-aware business was the first priority” of the company’s new management, the statement says.

Article written by HEI contributor Lydia Ezeakor.

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