For marine life - It's an ecological emergency: Oil from the massive leak in the Gulf of Mexico has started reaching coastal wetlands along the Louisiana coast and is expected to reach the shores of Mississippi and Alabama as well. And while the initial effects of the massive Gulf Coast oil leak could be devastating to coastal wetlands and beaches, the subsequent cleanup could be even more damaging to the sensitive eco-systems.
Wetlands expert Christopher B. Craft says, "Sometimes the cleanup itself can be as hard on the environment as the oil itself. They do things like pressure washing rocks and sand, and any kind of attached organisms get blown off. They may end up excavating sand off beaches. The marshes, which really dominate Louisiana coastline, are mostly vegetation and cleanup there is really going to be problematic."
It will take several years for affected Gulf Coast areas to be cleaned and recover, and the time will depend on how much oil actually comes ashore.
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