HOUSTON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- More than 1,000 scientists and public officials gathered Monday in the U.S. state of Louisiana to review the short and long-term effects of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, the largest of its kind, is looking into the effects of pollution resulting from the spill and its effects on natural systems in the gulf and along the shoreline, and on the people who live and work there, according to news website NOLA.com.
The conference was kicked off by Thad Allen, the federal government's former national incident commander during the BP oil spill in 2010. Allen discussed his experience in coordinating oil spill responses and what research was needed to improve the response from a management perspective.
Even though the U.S. government and industry attempted to clear some scientific issues likely to be raised during a major oil spill response, sometimes those efforts were not adequate, such as the approval of dispersants and the use of burning to keep as much oil as possible from reaching the shoreline, Allen said.
Responders also were ill-equipped to deal with health issues, ranging from concerns about the quality of testing to seafood safety, to the suicide of an Alabama boat captain participating in the Vessel of Opportunity program, he added.
To overcome many of these problems, Allen suggested the Oil Pollution Act and other laws be changed to develop a more unified structure that could work across legal and political boundaries.
Allen also recommended scientific information collected before and during the response be released to the public, in order to avoid misunderstanding about the effects on the environment or public health.
During the three-day conference, hundreds of scientific presentations will be made, ranging from socioeconomic effects of the spill to developments in dispersant science and technology. A public forum was planned for Tuesday on the gulf's ecosystems and prospects for recovery.
The 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico triggered an explosion that killed 11 rig workers and unleashed the worst oil spill in U.S. history.