A year after the massive BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, assessments of the Gulf Coast’s recovery are, for the most part, optimistic. Lisa DiPinto is a Southeast Region Branch Chief with the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s office of Response and Restoration.
“For some areas like the shoreline, I would certainly say that for the degree of oiling that we have observed in the shoreline along the Gulf states, that I think we feel it could have been a lot worse. And what we are seeing is a result of the fact that I think we applied dispersants. So now what is happening in the water column and more offshore is an area that I think we are still investigating pretty hard.”
DiPinto is similarly upbeat about the fish and shrimp being caught in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The seafood safety testing that I have seen has indicated that everything is looking good. You know I think it is a message that we want to put out there that the seafood testing program, which was extremely rigorous and parts of it were developed specifically for some of the constituents seen in this incident, that we have gotten good results and I think we are seeing a safe seafood system down there.”
Of course, research and testing throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast continues unabated, and DiPinto cautions that they don’t have the whole picture yet. She says NOAA’s research will help determine where and what needs the most help in restoring the Gulf coast waters and marshland back to where it was before the oil spill.
To help aid recovery in the region, President Obama issued an executive order last October establishing the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The White House says it will not only address the damage caused by the BP Oil Spill, but also the Gulf’s longstanding ecological decline, and begin moving toward a more resilient Gulf Coast ecosystem.