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BP Oil Still Washing Ashore One Year After Spill

Crude oil continues to wash ashore along the Gulf of Mexico coast a year after BP Plc (BP/) stopped the flow from its damaged Macondo well, which caused the worst U.S. offshore spill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

About 491 miles (790 kilometers) of coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida were contaminated by BP oil as of July 9, the last available tally from field inspections, Tim Zink, a spokesman for the agency, said in an e-mailed message. A total of 1,074 miles has been oiled since the spill began, he said.

The U.S. government estimates that 4.9 million barrels were spilled into the Gulf from Macondo after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, 2010. BP, based in London, succeeded in capping the flow a year ago today.

“I’d characterize it as a light sheen and tar balls of all shapes and sizes,” Zink said in an interview yesterday. “For roughly the first year, it was heavy, moderate to light oiling. This is light.”

Still, the latest survey in Louisiana found 5 miles of beaches and 8 miles of marsh heavily oiled, according to results provided by Zink. The July survey covered almost 4,300 miles of shoreline in the four states.

The pollution of Gulf Coast beaches is one of several headwinds BP faces as Europe’s second-largest oil company seeks to rebuild its business and reputation in the U.S. The U.K. producer’s shares remain about 30 percent below the pre-spill price and have gained 13 percent since the spill ended.

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