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Oil Remains as Life Goes On 6 Months After BP Spill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- There is evidence that the Gulf of Mexico is healing: The deserted marina in Venice, Louisiana, once invaded by camera crews and work boats, has been reclaimed by charter boat captains who haul yellowfin tuna off their skiffs and hang them up with pride. Only seven percent of the Gulf is still closed to fishing. The fishermen -- and their smiles -- have returned.

But 40 miles south of New Orleans, oil from the BP spill six months ago continues to leach into the landscape.

The April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, killed 11 workers and released nearly 180 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. Three months after the well was capped, the oil still keeps coming up.

Peter Lehrner, of the National Resource Defense Council, cited official estimates that say 50 percent of the leaked crude could still be in the Gulf. He says the government and BP need to put more effort into the cleanup. Every day the tide washes the marsh anew with oil. By morning, the reeds have been painted brown, and when the sun heats up the soggy turf, oil oozes out. He and his crew say they've vacuumed about 2,000 gallons a day from this spot alone for weeks.

By Tuesday, the cleanup effort had been scaled down and Lamere's team and others had been laid off. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, the government's on-scene coordinator, said that the number of cleanup workers has been cut from 48,000 to 13,000.

Nearly 200,000 have filed for damages and more than $1.4 billion has been disbursed from a $20 billion BP compensation fund. So far only 500 claims have been denied.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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