BP releases Gulf of Mexico environmental data

HOUSTON — BP on Monday released a massive amount of environmental data it uses in its efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico, where the company’s Macondo well spilled millions of barrels of oil in 2010.

The company is planning to publish data on everything from aquatic life and birds to Gulf shorelines and environmental toxicology, but BP’s first data dump includes 2.3 million lines of water chemistry data and measures the amount of crude-related chemicals that were in the ocean. BP also published data on the composition and degradation of the oil  released from its well.

The data — published on a new website Monday – follows another website the company launched this month to “set the record straight” on the Gulf. The second site is an attempt to allow interested outsiders to use the environmental data in scientific studies or to come to their own conclusions about the Gulf, BP said.

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The company has collected the data alongside government agencies since the 86-day spill began in April 2010, and releasing it now “will enhance Gulf-related scientific research and improve the public’s understanding of the condition of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Laura Folse, BP’s executive vice president for response and environmental restoration, in a written statement.

Users will have to register an email account with the company to get into BP’s spreadsheets and maps.

So far, the company has spent $14 billion on its response to the Gulf oil spill and clean-up.

BP is still in legal fights over the worst offshore oil spill in American history and the third phase of a civil trial that combines many of the legal disputes that arose from the disaster is slated to start next year in New Orleans. So far, the company has paid $12 billion in a settlement with Gulf Coast residents and companies who say the spill damaged their property or business.