Image courtesy of BP.

A study conducted by BP found that portions of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill are returning back to their pre-spill condition.

The report, released Tuesday, said areas impacted by the spill have been recovering “faster than predicted.”

In 2010 the U.S. Coast Guard  documented 86 miles of marsh that were categorized as heavily oiled, a figure that dropped to 0.7 miles by early 2014.

BP said the remaining area is recovering naturally.

“Injured natural resources are being restored in an unprecedented fashion,” BP said.

The report said that available data does not indicate any significant long-term population-level impact to species in the Gulf.

“For example, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) data do not reveal ongoing adverse impacts to bird populations linked to the spill beyond the initial, limited acute mortality in 2010,” BP said.

The report also said that impacts from the spill largely occurred in the spring and summer of 2010.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show that fish populations are robust, and commercial landings generally have been consistent with pre-spill trends and ranges.

BP said that findings published by a group of researchers, including scientists working with the NRDA trustees, also show that most deepwater coral communities were not affected by the accident.

Several key factors lessened the spill’s impact, BP said.

The spill took place in deepwater, far offshore and in a temperate climate, allowing the oil to break down, a process BP said was aided by “robust populations of oil-eating microbes” in the Gulf.

The type of light crude oil involved in this spill also degrades and evaporates faster than heavier oils, the company added.

The company has spent more than $28 billion on response, cleanup, early restoration and claims payments tied to the spill.

BP is facing up to $13.7 billion in fines for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The penalty phase of the Deepwater Horizon trial began in January.


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