Archive for Saturday, May 22, 2010

BP drawing anger over response to spill

May 22, 2010

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal looks at encroaching oil Friday as he tours a land bridge built by the Louisiana National Guard to hold back oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Grand Isle, La.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal looks at encroaching oil Friday as he tours a land bridge built by the Louisiana National Guard to hold back oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Grand Isle, La.

Oil washes ashore against a land bridge built by the Louisiana National Guard to hold back oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Friday in Grand Isle, La.

Oil washes ashore against a land bridge built by the Louisiana National Guard to hold back oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Friday in Grand Isle, La.

— Days after the Gulf Coast oil spill, the Obama administration pledged to keep its “boot on the throat” of BP to make sure the company did all it could to cap the gushing leak and clean up the spill.

But a month after the April 20 explosion, anger is growing about why BP PLC is still in charge of the response.

“I’m tired of being nice. I’m tired of working as a team,” said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana.

“The government should have stepped in and not just taken BP’s word,” declared Wayne Stone of Marathon, Fla., an avid diver who worries about the spill’s effect on the ecosystem.

That sense of frustration is shared by an increasing number of Gulf Coast residents, elected officials and environmental groups who have called for the government to simply take over.

In fact, the government is overseeing things. But the official responsible for that says he still understands the discontent.

“If anybody is frustrated with this response, I would tell them their symptoms are normal, because I’m frustrated, too,” said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen.

“Nobody likes to have a feeling that you can’t do something about a very big problem,” Allen told The Associated Press Friday.

Still, as simple as it may seem for the government to just take over, the law prevents it, Allen said.

After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents — including paying for all cleanup — with oversight by federal agencies. Spills on land are overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, offshore spills by the Coast Guard.

“The basic notion is you hold the responsible party accountable, with regime oversight” from the government, Allen said. “BP has not been relieved of that responsibility, nor have they been relieved for penalties or for oversight.”

He and Coast Guard Adm. Mary Landry, the federal onsite coordinator, direct virtually everything BP does in response to the spill — and with a few exceptions have received full cooperation, Allen said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was even more emphatic.

“There’s nothing that we think can and should be done that isn’t being done. Nothing,” Gibbs said Friday during a lengthy, often testy exchange with reporters about the response to the oil disaster.

There are no powers of intervention that the federal government has available but has opted not to use, Gibbs said.

Asked if President Barack Obama had confidence in BP, Gibbs said only: “We are continuing to push BP to do everything that they can.”

BP spokesman Neil Chapman said the federal government has been “an integral part of the response” to the oil spill since shortly after the April 20 explosion.

“There are many federal agencies here in the Unified Command, and they’ve been part of that within days of the incident,” said Chapman, who works out of a joint response site in Louisiana, near the site of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Criticism of the cleanup response has spread beyond BP. On Friday, the Texas lab contracted to test samples of water contaminated by the spill defended itself against complaints that it has a conflict of interest because it does other work for BP.

TDI-Brooks International Inc., which points to its staffers’ experience handling samples from the Exxon Valdez disaster, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped audit the lab and approved its methods.

“A typical state laboratory does not have this experience or capacity,” TDI president James M. Brooks said.

The company’s client list includes federal and state agencies along with dozens of oil companies, among them BP, a connection first reported by The New York Times. TDI-Brooks said about half of the lab’s revenue comes from government work.

Test results on Deepwater Horizon samples will figure prominently in lawsuits and other judgments seeking to put a dollar value on the damage caused by the spill.

Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes, who traveled to the Gulf the day after the explosion and has coordinated Interior’s response to the spill, rejected the notion that BP is telling the federal government what to do.

“They are lashed in,” Hayes said of BP. “They need approval for everything they do.”

If BP is lashed to the government, the tether goes both ways. A large part of what the government knows about the oil spill comes from BP.

The oil company helps staff the command center in Robert, La., which publishes daily reports on efforts to contain, disperse and skim oil.

Some of the information flowing into the command center comes from undersea robots run by BP or ships ultimately being paid by BP. When the center reported Friday that nearly 9 million gallons of an oil-water mixture had been skimmed from the ocean surface, those statistics came from barges and other vessels funded by BP.

Allen, the incident commander, said the main problem for federal responders is the unique nature of the spill — 5,000 feet below the surface with no human access.

“This is really closer to Apollo 13 than Exxon Valdez,” he said, referring to a near-disastrous Moon mission 40 years ago.

“Access to this well-site is through technology that is owned in the private sector,” Allen said, referring to remotely operated vehicles and sensors owned by BP.

Even so, the company has largely done what officials have asked, Allen said. Most recently, it responded to an EPA directive to find a less toxic chemical dispersant to break up the oil underwater.

In two instances — finding samples from the bottom of the ocean to test dispersants and distributing booms to block the oil — BP did not respond as quickly as officials had hoped, Allen said. In both cases they ultimately complied.

“Personally, whenever I have problem I call (BP CEO) Tony Hayward” on his cell phone, Allen said.

Comments

whats_going_on 5 years, 1 month ago

I want to know what would have happened, politically, if the government had taken immediate control and just said "BP, you screwed this up, it's huge, you're out and we're taking over."

I can tell you, there would be an outlash of people andgry and upset over THAT. And then, if what they immediately did couldn't have helped, people would get even MORE upset and would have cried even more that this admin is useless.

As for politics, people need to stfu and find a solution TOGETHER.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

"Washington — Days after the Gulf Coast oil spill, the Obama administration pledged to keep its “boot on the throat” of BP "

Tough talk from an administration that has pretty much kept a thumb up its fundament the whole length of this crisis.

BigPrune 5 years, 1 month ago

where was Obama during this whole crisis for the past month, playing golf again, attending glitzy galas? but of course. pathetic.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 1 month ago

I say BP should be forbidden to practice oil business in the USA.

Isn't it odd that BP will follow other countries safety regulations no matter what but blow them off in the USA.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 1 month ago

Truly and verily a well-resoned and thoughtful response.

"The idiot who praiseswith enthusastic tone, every century but this and every country but hisown" - "The Mikado" - Gilbert and Sullivan (British comic opera composers)

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

The other countries, who are just commies to many people on this forum, strictly regulated these offshore rigs. Business controls our government, so regulations are nonexistent or are ignored. The tea bag people want to take back our country from the African American who is there, or as they say n****r, but they are all for the corporations running the show. They are all a bunch of racist pawns, who are told their lifestyle doesn't hurt anyone. They are brainwashed to believe that corporations aren't at fault, it's the big bad government wolf. They keep on driving their gas guzzlers and driving 2 blocks to the grocery store, and believe public transport is for the homeless. We are reaping what we have sown.

UfoPilot 5 years, 1 month ago

Which other countries? Saudi Arabia? Not only ARE there regulations, There are So many that many companies will not do business in the U.S. The "TeaParty group is about taxes and money NOT race. What kind of car do YOU drive? How do YOU heat YOUR home ? Do YOU use any plastic products? Your comments are conspiratorial in nature and NOT based in reality. I suggest you do some reading and educate yourself.

Jaylee 5 years, 1 month ago

"DRILL. BABY, DRILL!!!" right? haha dumb ol' hicks

tomatogrower 5 years, 1 month ago

I think the government has been too easy on BP. I think they should have frozen all of the assets immediately, and taken over the company. They have been way to nice to BP. The Paul family probably own too much stock in BP, so they are sweating it. They might have to go out and get real jobs.

UfoPilot 5 years, 1 month ago

And this information comes from where? The voices in your head? Here is the Truth about BP (it was easy to find) http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=BP

The Gates foundation holds shares. You better sell your computer...

Jaylee 5 years, 1 month ago

"Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents — including paying for all cleanup "

A clause needs to be added that allows the federal government to exhaust any means to stop the leak and begin clean-up, then send BP (or whatever guilty party) an itemized bill and wish them a good next 20+ years of bills for continuing clean-up.

Is that not pretty damned reasonable? I don't think that was in the list of failed ideas.

"When dispersants are applied to surface oil slicks, they act to break up the slicks and move the oil, in the form of tiny droplets, from the water surface down into the water column (the volume of water extending from the surface to the bottom). " -http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/topic_subtopic_entry.php?RECORD_KEY%28entry_subtopic_topic%29=entry_id,subtopic_id,topic_id&entry_id%28entry_subtopic_topic%29=155&subtopic_id%28entry_subtopic_topic%29=8&topic_id%28entry_subtopic_topic%29=1

So I understand how dispersants work, but fail to understand / agree with the logic that creating an oil solution out of the whole Gulf is a better way to take care of oil than letting it ride to the surface and skimming (closer to) whole oil?

I thought we were already dealing with the oil breaking up chemically on the way to the surface from all the currents and deep sea pressure? It was making pools of the different chemicals at different depths that obviously we cannot see. I watched an interview with a biologist who'd been working on ExxonValdez for the last 21 years and he referred to the oil washing ashore as "emulsified" and according to the aforementioned NOAA report,

"Heavier oils or highly emulsified oils (oils that have mixed with water to form a heavy froth) are less amenable to successful dispersion" -same NOAA Dispersant report

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 years, 1 month ago

What did they expect, flowers and candy??

Seriously, the whole world is in on this oil frenzy. China has now developed an auto indusry and has roads and freeways that are knockout copies of the system in the U.S. And the whole world is careening full throttle into oblivion. When the oil runs out (and make no mistake, it is limited and non-renewable, at least in the forseeable multiple millenia) there will be a great cataclism that is believably presented to us in the book of Revelation. It will truly be the end of the world, I fear. "Not with a bang but a whimper"

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