On Tuesday, oil company BP announced the end to “active shoreline cleanup operations” on the Gulf Coast, just under four years after an explosion and subsequent fire at one of their drilling rigs cause millions of gallons of oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard quickly stepped in to clarify that BP was not actually finished.
BP’s announcement of the end of “active cleanup,” a semantic twist meaning pretty much nothing, coincided with the Coast Guard ending patrols of the final three miles of Louisiana shoreline. As The Washington Post explains, the Coast Guard and BP will not be actively searching for oil slicks but instead responding to specific, reported instances of oil coming ashore. To draw an analogy, BP picked up all the really big pieces of glass but if you slice your foot open on something they missed, please let them know.
The Coast Guard’s federal on-scene coordinator Captain Thomas Sparks clarified that the end of so-called “active cleanup” was not the end of “cleanup.” In the Coast Guard’s release, he says:
Let me be absolutely clear: This response is not over—not by a long shot. The transition to the Middle Response process does not end clean-up operations, and we continue to hold the responsible party accountable for Deepwater Horizon cleanup costs.
It makes sense that BP would try to portray itself as done with the Deepwater Horizon fiasco. The company set aside $42 billion to pay cleanup costs, fines, damages, and other fees.