Update: The Coast Guard responded to BP’s claim, saying coastal cleanup from the Gulf oil spill is “far from over.”
HOUSTON – Nearly four years after the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP said it joined the U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday in declaring an end to cleanup operations that cost the company $14 billion and once covered 778 miles of shoreline on the Gulf Coast.
The Coast Guard has finished its last patrols of the three remaining miles of beach that had been soaked in oil after a blowout at BP’s Macondo well sent millions of barrels of crude into the ocean on April 20, 2010. The explosion killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig and the spill lasted more than 85 days.
“Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon accident, BP committed to cleaning the shoreline and supporting the Gulf’s economic and environmental recovery,” John Mingé, chairman and president of BP America, said in a written statement Tuesday. “Completing active cleanup is further indication that we are keeping that commitment.”
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BP said it spent more than 70 million personnel hours on the response to the spill and the cleanup efforts afterward. The company said it will “keep resources in place to respond” if more oil from the Macondo well is found and needs to be removed.
The oil was cleaned from Gulf waters in 2010, according to the Operational Science Advisory Teams, a multiagency group that prepared reports for the Coast Guard.
The company said it has paid $12.9 billion in damage claims, settlements and other payments related to the spill.
BP struck a multibillion-dollar settlement with plaintiffs in 2012 but is still waiting for a federal judge in New Orleans to hand down rulings on its degree of negligence before the spill and other issues that could raise its environmental fines up to $18 billion.