Monday, May 3, 2010

BP Oil Spill Could Have Been Contained Much Sooner If Only ...

the government had had a fire boom.

Maybe. Maybe not. We'll never know, since the government didn't have any and had to buy one 8 days after the accident.

Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill (5/3/2010

"If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

"The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

"The "In-Situ Burn" plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

"But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

"When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine, shipped the only boom it had in stock, Jeff Bohleber, chief financial officer for Elastec, said today.

"...A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

""They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand," Bohleber said. "If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose."

"In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn. (Watch video footage of the test burn.)

"At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet -- who helped craft the 1994 plan -- told the Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. "The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away."

"Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well." [Emphasis is mine. The article continues.]

Rear Admiral Mary Landry was the one who said there was no oil spill on April 22nd, only to change the story the next day. Haven't heard from her lately, have we?

If oil spill maps on various sites (here's one from USA Today) are accurate enough, the size of the spill was still relatively minor until April 26. The government waited until April 29 to issue several statements about the spill.

The government didn't have a fire boom. So they waited, criticized BP harshly, and waited. They are still waiting for six fire booms to arrive by Wednesday, so that they can use on Thursday.


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