Washington, April 21 (IANS/EFE) President Barack Obama Wednesday recalled the 11 workers who died a year ago when an oil drilling platform blew up, burned and sank in the Gulf of Mexico sparking the worst ecological disaster in US history.
"One year ago today, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded, killing 11 men and ultimately releasing an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico," said Obama in a statement released by the White House.
"That catastrophic event deeply affected the lives of millions of Americans, from local fishermen to restaurant and hotel owners and small businesses throughout the region," he said.
Obama noted that the response to the disaster included the work of more than 48,000 people to contain the spill, protect coastal areas and the wildlife there and to clean up the contaminated zones.
"While we've made significant progress, the job isn't done," he said.
Obama said that the federal government and state and local authorities "continue to hold BP and other responsible parties fully accountable for the damage they've done and the painful losses that they've caused".
Authorities are still examining the seafood caught in the Gulf for human consumption "to ensure its continued safety" at the same time that they implement "aggressive new reforms for offshore oil production in the Gulf so that we can safely and responsibly expand development of our own energy resources".
"The events that unfolded April 20, 2010 and the oil spill that followed underscores the critical link between the environment and economic health of the Gulf," the president said.
The catastrophe resulted in a moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf, although that hiatus ended last October with the government promising that the industry had learned its lesson and that the vague regulatory mechanisms that contributed to the accident had been replaced with much firmer ones.
Since then, 10 permits have been granted to companies to undertake deep-water drilling activities in the Gulf after a strict review process, according to the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.