The BP Oil Spill Five Years Later

ABC News' Matt Gutman reports on the impact of the 2010 BP oil spill on the Gulf Coast.
5:22 | 04/19/15

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Transcript for The BP Oil Spill Five Years Later
We mark the fifth anniversary of the BP oil spill the accident that shook Louisiana's gulf coast, so how is the region recovering, we sent Matt Gutman to find out. Reporter: It was the worst environmental catastrophe. The race tonight to save the increasing Numbers of birds and other animals threatened by the growing oil slick. Reporter: The explosion, 11 people killed and for 87 days millions of barrels of oil spilt into the gulf. This is the bay, critical marshland that was heavily oiled in 2010. Black ribbon of oil painted across these marshes. Today, in this spot at least, no oil to be found. Five years ago, I had sunk my hand in here, probably would have pulled up a fist full of oil. Right now. Some fresh smelling oil. It was an unprecedented and controversial cleanup response. Burns and those chemical dispersions. BP paying nearly $28 billion for cleanup and initial settlements. We mobilized hundreds of thousands people who spent millions of man hours, there's no question that the combination of the response and the natural resilience of the gulf greatly mitigated the impact of the spill. Personally, I don't think it's getting better. The waters are sketchy, a few areas are dead Zones. Reporter: He's spent the past four decades shrimping. And we kept up with him since the spill. He's not just worried about the shrimp deemed healthy to eat by the government and rebounding in population, but also his own health, problems he says like -- Eye infections. Headaches and memory loss. Reporter: After effects he claim from the cleanup. He's one of a dozens with pending suits against BP for medical claims after opting out of an initial settlement he believed fell short. But then there's the question of the oil itself. We went out with scientists who have been studying these waters. You don't see oil slick diamonds You see these tarmacs still being pulled up. What it points to is that oil is still in the system and just because we can't always see it everywhere we go, it's still out there. Reporter: We wondered if the oil was from BP. We sent a sample to Louisiana state university for testing. We picked this up oil, this is nearly an exact match of the well. The product that you have in your hand does not pose a threat to human or aquatic life. Reporter: How do you know? If it's the oil, it's now five years old, likely weathered beyond the point of being harmful. Reporter: Some scientists disagree. It starts to break apart over time and the oil compounds, particularly those that are toxic to wildlife is still there. Reporter: Many of the worst fears of five years ago is the environmental impact of this spill never materialized. But the official report on the on the long-term environmental impacts of the spill has not yet been published. BP continues to fight multiple cases. Last fall, a federal judge ruling BP was “grossly negligent” in its conduct leading up to the spill. The company could be forced to pay billions of dollars in fines in Clean Water Act violations this summer. The company disputes the fact that we were in any way grossly negligence. We respectively disagreed with the court's findings on that and are appealing. Reporter: Shortcuts were taken, significant shortcuts and that's why the judge ruled that BP was grossly negligence. We disagree with the court's findings? Reporter: In 2012, the company pleading guilty for providing false and misleading information to congress. We asked him how much the spill has cost him? I hope I don't have to tell you in years of my life. But I'm telling you I'm not the same man. Reporter: The question persists, can the gulf, all of its marshland, its animals and people make a full recovery? For "This week," Matt Gutman, ABC news. Our thanks to Matt. Text: This story has been edited since its original broadcast to make clear that the ruling from a federal judge last fall finding BP “grossly negligent” applied to events leading up to the spill. The same judge ruled in February that BP’s cleanup efforts after the spill have not been grossly negligent.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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