Oil Spill's Economic Toll Estimated in the Billions

A number of the filings unearthed by Footnoted.Com signal the impact could spread well beyond the oil industry. The website notes a filing by West Marine, Inc., a company that sells recreational boating supplies, which warns of a "substantial impact on boating usage in the area." And another by Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., that raises concerns about a decline in tourism in the region, and thus fewer customers for their grocery stores.

David Yoskowitz, a fellow at The Harte Research Institute, a research arm of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, told ABC News it is almost impossible to contemplate all the ways a spill of this magnitude could impact the economy. Beyond the oil and gas industries, and fishing, boating, and tourism, Yoskowitz said his research indicates there could be more than $1.2 billion in costs that stem from the damage to wetlands "that are not accounted for in the marketplace." That's because regions effected by the spill could be forced to build new systems to compensate for the loss in storm protection and wastewater treatment provided naturally by the wetlands.

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Calculations of the impact "may take several years to play out," according to BP's filings. "The effectiveness of BP's actions to mitigate the environmental impact of the spill will be important in the final assessment of the incident and any long-term reputational damage could be significant," the company says.

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