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Results from a new study conducted by the University of South Florida show that oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout settled approximately 80 miles off the coast of Tampa Bay, hundreds of miles south of the stricken wellhead. Findings from USF oceanographer John Paul’s study were published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Because of BP’s unprecedented use of Corexit, the disbursement chemical applied at the site of the spill, very little oil appeared on the beaches surrounding Tampa Bay. It seems the company’s PR people were counselling the use of Corexit under the theory of out of sight, out of mind – and it likely worked – at least initially. The oil dropped below the surface, allowing the company to avoid the embarrassment (and liability) associated with oiled birds, dolphins and other marine life.

Until recently, the assumption was that nature had taken care of the clean up. While some oil still appears on beaches after storms and hurricanes, to the untrained eye, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history seems to have fizzled. However, a handful of scientists have been conducting studies over the past three years post-spill. The results are starting to come in, and they are anything but encouraging.

First, as reported in mid-August by Australia’s 60 Minutes news magazine, Corexit, BP’s disbursement of choice, has been associated with a myriad of health and environmental issues. Clean up workers exposed to the toxin have fallen ill and died. Fish and other sealife have seen mutations and suffered from mysterious lesions. Now comes Professor Paul’s study showing vast amounts of oil embedded offshore.

“Once it’s in the sediment, it’s kind of immobile,” Paul told the Tampa Bay Times.  “Organisms in contact with these waters might experience DNA damage that could lead to mutation.”

If you live in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi or Louisiana, you have no doubt seen BP’s advertisements claiming that everything is just fine. Trust us. The company claims that the marine environment is healthier than ever because of its “Commitment to the Gulf.” All the while BP demonizes businesses and individuals for seeking compensation under it’s claims program.

Who knows what our environmental future holds. But unbeknown to most, BP could care less. Why? Because as of April 22, 2014 the company will be absolved from all legal liability associated with the spill. You heard right. Every business and individual in the Gulf is being forced to provide BP with a legal release as of that date.

Should people start dropping dead from exposure to Corexit, no matter. Should our seafood harvest decrease or become inedible, no matter. Should a hurricane wash the oil from the underwater shelf to the white beaches of our coast and devastate tourism, no matter. BP gets a pass. So do not let them make you feel guilty or undeserving of filing a claim. BP is getting something of value from you – a legally binding release – the company is just upset they have to compensate you for same. BP wants to have its cake and eat yours too.

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