"A year after the worst oil spill to strike U.S. waters, oyster beds are struggling along the Gulf of Mexico, the dolphin population is experiencing what the federal government calls an 'unusual mortality event,' and red snapper with rotting fins are showing up on fishing lines.
But scientists say it's far too soon to make definitive conclusions about the scale and scope of the marine disturbances. This uncertainty, which may not be resolved for years, is paving the way for the next phase of the Deepwater Horizon disaster: an intense debate over the actual damage caused by the spill and who, if anyone, should pay.
In some instances, the cause of the damage is clear. Spots along the Gulf Coast still have oil from BP PLC's well lodged in tar-like 'mats' under the water and buried in the sand on beaches, the federal government says."