USA: BP oil spill hastened Louisiana marsh loss, study concludes
1st July 2012
June 25 - The 2010 BP oil spill accelerated the loss of Louisiana’s delicate marshlands, which were already rapidly disappearing before the largest oil spill in U.S. history, a new study reports accordiong to the Washington Post.
As oil from the spill washed onshore into the marshlands it coated and smothered thick grasses at their edge. When the grass died, deep roots that held the soil together also died, leaving the shore banks of the marshlands prone to crumbling, said Brian Silliman, the University of Florida researcher who led the new study.
“We already knew that erosion leads to permanent marsh loss, and now we know that oil can exacerbate it,” Silliman said.
In Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, oiled marshes eroded at about twice the rate of non-oiled marshes, receding nearly 10 feet per year, Silliman’s team found. “Doubling the rate of erosion is a huge number,” said Zoe Hughes, a marsh researcher at Boston University who was not involved in the research. “It’s very significant in areas where you have erosion anyway.”