By Matthew Lee, Louisiana State University (LSU):
Matthew Lee is a professor of sociology and associate vice chancellor in the Office of Research and Economic Development at LSU and has been closely involved in LSU's research response to the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
It's been three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and forever changing the way the world views the Gulf Coast. While the $4 billion verdict against BP has finally been handed down as justice for damages, it's not going to help many of the people directly impacted by the spill's impacts. It's time for a reminder of the long-term impacts accompanying technological disasters - and for the development of a better system for addressing the mental well-being of coastal residents and their communities after these all-too-frequent events.
As a sociologist in Louisiana, I've tracked the status of these men, women and families - people who have history in their geography, whose families have worked the same jobs in the same places for generations. These people do hard, back-breaking labor to provide our nation with seafood, oil and gas. They maintain the largest port system in the world, and are exposed to some of the worst hazards imaginable - hurricanes and oil spills, just to scratch the surface.