Environmental watchdog Greenpeace on Wednesday announced the launch of a three-month expedition on which researchers will analyze the impact of the massive BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.
A Greenpeace ship sets sail Thursday from Saint Petersburg, Florida, and will tour the southern tip of Florida and its Keys before heading northward to the area of the failed oil well.
"From the very start, the full scope of the Gulf oil disaster has been obscured by BP and even our own government," said John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director.
"The largest accidental oil spill in history and the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants will impact Gulf marine life for years to come, and independent research is critical to ensure that BP is not allowed to hide what they have done or walk away from their responsibilities," he argued.
The ship MY Arctic Sunrise will "host independent scientists who will be researching the impacts of oil and chemical dispersants on Gulf ecosystems and marine life," Hocevar said.
Scientists will look at the ecosystem as a whole from plankton on the surface to coral reefs and other life as well as the gulf floor.
BP is setting up a 20 billion-dollar fund to compensate those hurt by the disaster, in which 4.1 million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico before BP last week fully capped the ruptured underground well.
Explore further: Pipeline that leaked wasn't equipped with auto shut-off