BP foresees no clean-up workers necessary in five years

GULFPORT -- BP’s chief of operations for the Gulf cleanup, Mike Utsler, has been on the job since the first days of the spill. He’s shifted it from a major effort in the summer and fall to pulling back as oil residue washing ashore has diminished each month since the winter.

Utsler told the Sun Herald on Thursday the last of the focus for cleanup is 550 acres of marsh in Louisiana and the barrier islands, which include the Gulf Islands National Seashore off the Mississippi Coast.

Bird-nesting season poses a problem in both those areas, and their sensitive marsh grasses can be damaged by foot traffic.

Also a cleanup problem is thick tar mats off the shore of the barrier islands from Florida to Alabama. Twenty to 100 feet in length, the mats rest on the near-shore bottoms, but they’re too far out to reach from shore.

Utsler estimates 30 have been identified and documented. Some are not visible, buried under sand, he said.

“We’ll continue to test technology to find and remove them,” he said.

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