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Sen. Nelson marks 3rd anniversary of BP oil spill

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U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson & Rep. Kathy Castor announce oil spill bill U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson & Rep. Kathy Castor announce oil spill bill
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

Saturday marks the three-year anniversary of the BP oil spill. It was one of the biggest man-made environmental disasters in US history.

US Senator Bill Nelson wants to make sure oil companies are liable if a spill happens again.

On April 20th, 2010, an explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon oil rig led to an ecological crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.  Scientists say 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf over the course of a couple of months.  As crews battled to stop the gushing spill, officials say two million gallons of dispersant were also used in the Gulf waters.

Along with environmental damages, millions of people working in tourism and other industries were impacted across the coast, and oil giant BP was held responsible.

Senator Bill Nelson said, "On the occasion of this third anniversary, we want to remind our people that the fight is just beginning."

Sen. Nelson is co-sponsoring a bill that would make oil companies completely liable for future spills. He made the announcement in St. Petersburg alongside Congresswoman Kathy Castor.

The legislation authored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is called the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Unlimited Liability Act.

Nelson says under current law, an oil company is only liable for cleanup costs, plus an additional $75 million dollars.

"The limits of liability would completely deplete our people's ability to try to find recompense," said Nelson.  He says the BP spill showed the money required under current law is not enough.

The oil giant has already doled out at least $10 billion dollars for cleanup and individual claims. An official at Nelson's office said BP waived the $75 million dollar cap.

The senator says this bill was pushed through Congress before, but it failed in the face of lobbying efforts.

"The oil companies are trying to run from the fight. They can run but they can't hide," said Nelson.

In the meantime, scientists say Gulf seafood is safe to eat, but there is a lot we don't know about the long term effects of this oil spill.

Dr. Robert Hueter with Mote Marine Laboratory said, "It's no doubt that it will take decades for us to understand the trauma our gulf has suffered."

Hueter said the 2010 oil spill was twenty times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, and it took four years for the impacts from the Exxon Valdez spill to show.

Ultimately, we don't know what the final cost of damages will be.  Senator Nelson hopes oil companies will be responsible for every dime in the future.

The bill will be formally filed next week.

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