Dolphins in the area of the BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana are suffering from lung diseases, abnormalities, and low birth rates, according to a new federal-backed study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The report makes the strongest connection between the oil spill and the concurrent spike in dolphin deaths. If found to be valid, BP could be on the hook to pay for compensation or restoration. The company disputes the report. "The agency still has not provided BP with any data demonstrating that the alleged poor health of any dolphins was caused by oil exposure," a spokesman tells The Wall Street Journal.

BP disputes the report

The BP spill in April 2010 was the largest offshore oil disaster in the history of the US, dumping millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The revelations about the effect on dolphins shows that more research needs to be done to determine the full impact of the spill, environmentalists say.