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BP oil spill cleanup: US says the coast is nearly clear. Is it? (+video)

Three years after the BP oil spill, the US Coast Guard says only 95 miles of coastline remain to be cleaned. But critics say the full extent of the damage is not yet known, especially in Louisiana, where oil is deep in the coastal environment.

BP cleanup funds caught in sequestration
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(Updated at 9 a.m. Aug. 16.)

With about 100 miles of coastline remaining to clean up following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill three years ago, the states most impacted by the disaster say it is too soon to stop, because the environmental damage is ongoing.

“The response should end when conditions on the ground dictate such actions. We’re not anywhere close right now,” says Garret Graves, chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA), a state agency leading hurricane protection and ecosystem restoration.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 people and releasing 205 million gallons of crude into the ocean for 111 days, it started a long and complicated process to determine who is responsible, and how much – and for how long – they would dedicate to the cleanup process, which most agree will never be fully complete.

To date, cleanup efforts have been overseen by the US Coast Guard, which reported in June that the shorelines of Florida, Mississippi and Alabama are complete, leaving most of Louisiana, where patrols remain actively looking for oil. According to the Guard, there are 90 responders currently working in Louisiana, compared with the 19,000 people who were dispatched in July 2010 to comb the beaches, marshes, and barrier islands searching for tarballs, sheen, and oil swept as much as 10 feet below coastal shorelines.

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