“BP is responsible for the damages”—up to $50,000 per turtle, as per the Endangered Species Act—“but it is incumbent on the government to prove what [the damages] are,” says Clark. He has heard rumors that the cleanup crews on Grand Isle, Louisiana, which are mainly made up of prisoners, were bagging dead turtles and birds in plastic bags marked for incineration because no one from Fish and Wildlife responded to their calls. The F.W.S. agents were mainly focused on federally owned coastline. It may go beyond unresponsive government agencies. Clark also heard rumors that BP was deliberately burning oiled sargassum, even though living sea turtles were known to be still in the floating mats.
So the crisis isn’t over, as BP and the government would have you believe. It’s only beginning. The biological consequences of this disaster will be felt for years, over generations, like Chernobyl. And we may never know how bad it was.