Through thousands of pages of legal documents and dozens of interviews over a year and a half of reporting, the AP exclusively reported that a medical settlement and litigation from the 2010 BP Gulf oil spill left many workers with nearly nothing for illnesses attributed to cleaning up the disaster.

The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster was the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, and tens of thousands of people were hired to help clean it up. Many got sick. A medical settlement with BP was supposed to compensate them quickly and fairly. But accountability reporting by the environment team’s Travis Loller and the water team’s Michael Phillis found that thousands who claimed illnesses from cleanup work were left with little or nothing.

The reporters had to wade through complicated science, read through voluminous court records, and interview dozens throughout the South. They found systemic problems at the administrative claims level and in federal courts. Judges made key decisions that upended the claims process, and attorneys mishandled cases. After one law firm with thousands of cases was accused of manufacturing medical records, cases were tossed in batches, leaving workers with no compensation. One firm neglected to tell clients for years that their cases had been dismissed. Some didn’t know until an AP reporter called.

The powerfully reported and written text package was accompanied by videos by Kristin Hall and photos by Gerald Herbert and George Walker IV. An animated graphic by Donavon Brutus illustrated how relatively few people received compensation. The all-formats package played widely on scores of websites over two days, with prominent outlets running multiple stories from the package.