More than 12 miles of Louisiana’s coastline have been closed to fishermen and recreational activities following Hurricane Isaac as officials work to verify that the large tar mats and concentration of tar balls washing ashore are directly linked to the BP oil spill.

According to WWWL news, the impacted area stretches from the western tip of Grand Isle to Port Fourchon. Garret Graves, the state’s top coastal restoration official, tells the news station he’s “99 percent” sure the weathered oil is from the massive 2010 BP oil spill that dumped millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf:
“It’s impossible to say at this point with a hundred percent certainty, but I can sit here and confidently say with 99 percent certainty that that’s exactly what it is,” said Grave. “It’s in some of the areas where we’ve previously found things like tar balls, tar mats and other impacts, and so it appears to be sort of weathered in a manner that would be consistent with Deepwater Horizon.”

And it would be just what a lot of people feared: that even years after the well beneath Deepwater Horizon was capped, oil left over from the disaster will keep showing up from time to time, especially after severe weather.
The news comes on the same day that the U.S. Justice Department filed a scathing brief with the U.S. District Court in Louisiana, accusing the oil giant of gross negligence and willful misconduct in its response to one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Forbes reports that the feds filed the commentary in conjunction with the massive civil litigation BP is facing following the spill:
BP is in the process of settling the civil damages case brought by a giant group of fishermen, hoteliers and citizens damaged by the spill. BP has urged the court there to make a final approval of a $7.8 billion settlement with plaintiffs. The DOJ’s brief comes as the court is set to make a final pronouncement about the fairness of the settlement. This could throw a wrench into those proceedings; after reading the government’s litany of digs on BP there is a chance that the plaintiffs could reject that settlement amount as too low.

The government attorneys state that they moved to file their commentary on the settlement proceedings by BP’s “plainly misleading representations” concerning the extent of its liability and the extent of environmental damages. The brief criticizes BP for, among many other things, downplaying the plight of sick dolphins in Barataria Bay, La, of dead and dying deep-sea corals and of coastal marshes still matted with oil. They reiterated that in the upcoming trial set to begin January 2013, “The United States intends to prove gross negligence or willful misconduct.”
Read more here and here.

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