NEW ORLEANS — The cleanup of oiled beaches along the Gulf of Mexico has reached a point where crews, heavy equipment and thorough scrubbing can cause more damage to the ecosystem than good, the Coast Guard said Friday.
Birds, sea turtles, fish and other species are more likely to be harmed by an aggressive cleanup than by simply leaving remnants of oil and letting it slowly degrade, the Coast Guard said.
The report was designed to guide the cleanup of the BP PLC spill from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. There are 4,265 people still involved in the cleanup and response on 544 miles of coast.
Recent oil samples show weathered oil found along beaches has lost the majority of the toxic compounds in it and the oil left on shores meets federal safety thresholds for people, the Coast Guard said.
At least one researcher questioned the Coast Guard's report.
Wilma Subra, a Louisiana chemist and consultant for environmental groups, said the toxic elements could last for decades and warned the report could let BP abandon cleanup before its complete.