NEW ORLEANS - Easter Sunday will mark four years since the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster dumped an estimated 200 million gallons of oil into the gulf.
Now, a local filmmaker's first screening of a new documentary is sparking more controversy. It centers around the recovery efforts and the long-term impacts on coastal communities.
The film 'The Restoration' focuses on a controversial topic that seems to have gone ignored, the long-term health impacts the Deepwater Horizon oil spill had on people.
Filmmaker Drew Landry said it is the reason he started the project, and it's one that hits close to home.
'I was getting calls for friends in Grand Isle and Mississippi that their kids were sick and they all had really similar respiratory problems that were not going away,' says Landry.
The film follows four fishing families through the claims process and their search for medical answers and treatments.
'These were young health people that, right now, can do anything and they are on Social Security,' said Dr. Mike Robichaux, an ear, nose and throat specialist. 'We are paying for them. BP has not paid a nickle for any of their care and there is no question their illnesses were associated with this.'
Robichaux, who is also featured in the film, said he treated over 100 patients who became sick after coming into contact with the toxic chemicals that make up the oil dispersants used in the clean-up efforts.
He said the patients all had the same symptoms, and while he has discovered a successful treatment to rid their bodies of the toxins, he and Landry say the film shows the irreversible damage that was done.
'If all of these impacts are because of the Deepwater disaster, then this shouldn't be a burden on the Medicare system to pay for these people and they should make it right with the fisherman that aren't able to sustain a living anymore,' says Landry.
'The use of chemical dispersant, corexit, is still the number one response protocol in place,' said Bonny Schumaker, president and founder of the non-profit On Wings of Care.
Bonny Schumaker runs a non-profit that monitors the Gulf of Mexico and the sea life since the oil spill. She said the dispersants have caused more harm than good and the oil industry needs to do away with the practice.
'It's been very bad, very bad,' said Schumaker. 'We are in no way recovered. In no way do I see the bird populations, the bait balls, the fish population, the sharks, I just don't see near what we used to see.
Earlier this week a BP spokesman said that while active clean up has ended, BP has not left the gulf and will keep resources in place to respond quickly.
The spokesperson also said BP has worked to help economic and environmental restoration efforts in the gulf, spending more than $14 billion on response and cleanup and paying more than $12 billion in claims to individuals, businesses, and government entities.