EPA and Dutch Skimmers

Questions have begun to be raised about supposed refusal by EPA of Dutch offers to supply large skimmers to help at the Gulf (reversed only recently.)

Here are links to a May 4 article about the Dutch skimmers (the earliest reference that I’m aware) blaming the refusal on EPA. I’ve also heard stories blaming the refusal on the Jones Act. The story is very murky right now. I’ve linked to a recent FOI request by San Francisco reporter Yobie Benjamin for information on the handling of foreign offers of help.

The May 4 article describing Dutch oil spill response capacity is here (Spill Response Group Netherlands url). Listen to the audio interview embedded in the article.

The article says that the Dutch clean up method is based on processing the spill to extract the maximum amount of oil in the minimum amount of time. In order to do so, they discharge oily water from which the majority of oil has been removed, but not drinking water standard. According to the interview, EPA refused the Dutch skimmers because EPA regulations prohibit the discharge of oily water even if the processing mitigated the majority of the problem. (No one knows whether this is really the story – hopefully, the documents in the FOI request will clarify matters.) The article stated:

Two Dutch companies are on stand-by to help the Americans tackle an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. The two companies use huge booms to sweep and suck the oil from the surface of the sea. The US authorities, however, have difficulties with the method they use.

What do the Dutch have that the Americans don’t when it comes to tackling oil spills at sea? “Skimmers,” answers Wierd Koops, chairman of the Dutch organisation for combating oil spills, Spill Response Group Holland.

The Americans don’t have spill response vessels with skimmers because their environment regulations do not allow it. With the Dutch method seawater is sucked up with the oil by the skimmer. The oil is stored in the tanker and the superfluous water is pumped overboard. But the water does contain some oil residue, and that is too much according to US environment regulations.[media:factfile1]

Wierd Koops thinks the US approach is nonsense, because otherwise you would have to store the surplus seawater in the tanks as well.

“We say no, you have to get as much oil as possible into the storage tanks and as little water as possible. So we pump the water, which contains drops of oil, back overboard.”

US regulations are contradictory, Mr Knoops stresses. Pumping water back into the sea with oil residue is not allowed. But you are allowed to combat the spill with chemicals so that the oil dissolves in the seawater. In both cases, the dissolved oil is naturally broken down quite quickly.

It is possible the Americans will opt for the Dutch method as the damage the oil spill could cause to the mud flats and salt marshes along the coast is much worse, warns Wetland expert Hans Revier.

“You have to make sure you clear up the oil at sea. As soon as the oil reaches the mud flats and salt marshes, it is too late. The only thing you can do then is dig it up. But then the solution is worse than the problem.”

If the Dutch technology works as described, it seems hard to believe that someone wouldn’t have moved heaven and earth to get the Dutch skimmers over to the Gulf of Mexico.

This story has been in the air for a while.

On June 12, reporter Yobie Benjamin sent an interesting FOI request here for further details.

From: Yobie Benjamin (yobXXXXXX@XXXXXXX.XXX)
Date: Sat, Jun 12, 2010 at 10:32 AM
Subject: Formal (FOIA) Freedom of Information Act Request as per FOIA 5 U.S.C. subsection 552

To: “Carroll, Sean CDR” (XXXXXXXroll@uscg.mil), “O’Neil, Christopher LCDR” (XXXXXXXeil@uscg.mil), “Halvorson, Erik LT” (XXXXXXrson@uscg.mil)

delivered via electronic mail June 12, 2010
delivery by postal mail to immediately follow

TO: Information Officer/s-in-Charge; Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command; Sean Carroll, CDR, United States Coast Guard , Christopher O’Neil LCDR, United States Coast Guard Erik Halvorson, LT

Dear Information Officer/s and/or FOIA Compliance Officer/s:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. subsection 552, I am requesting information and records related to:

1. Countries, non-governmental organizations and international agencies that have offered assistance to help respond to the BP oil spill and what specific boats, marine vessels and said boats or marine vessels’ technical capabilities and operational capacities.

2. The list of countries and their respective offers that were accepted and put into service into the theater of operations

3. The list of countries and their respective offers that were not accepted and therefore not put into service into the theater of operations

4. The reasons why certain countries and their respective offers that were not accepted by the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command

If there are any fees for copying the records related to my request, I will pay for them.

If you refuse or deny all or any part of this request, please cite each specific exemption you think justifies your refusal to release the information and notify me of appeal procedures available under the law.

The purpose of this request is to publish the findings and response on my City Brights blog which can be accessed on the following URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/ybenjamin/index

Finally please provide the mailing address of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command so I can send a copy of this email request via by postal mail.

Sincerely yours,
Yobie Benjamin

This, of course, is merely one aspect of EPA’s puzzling conduct in the entire affair – conduct that is, at least, puzzling to me given EPA’s legislated leadership role in the National Contingency Plan Act and its virtual invisibility in the oil blowout response other than cavilling about which dispersant to use.


57 Comments

  1. Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    The dutch also offered a month ago to bring in sand dredgers of the type that created the dubai palm tree islands. The idea was to build a sand dike in front of the wetlands to protect them.

    Never heard anything about it.

    • J.T. Wenting
      Posted Jun 23, 2010 at 1:10 AM | Permalink

      “If the Dutch technology works as described, it seems hard to believe that someone wouldn’t have moved heaven and earth to get the Dutch skimmers over to the Gulf of Mexico. ”

      They work as described. And these were denied under EPA regulations as described.

      “Never heard anything about it.”

      These are the vessels denied under the Jones Act. The sand would be loaded in US waters and deposited in US waters, thus transporting goods between areas of the US which the Jones Act makes illegal as the vessels are not US owned or built (and most crew wouldn’t be US citizens either).

      Combine these two responses and you do two things:
      1) the majority of the oil is removed before it ever gets near shore, and can in fact be sent to refineries (recovering part of the cost of the cleanup in the process).
      2) the rest is blocked from ever reaching the shore as it sits in the new sand banks.

      As an added bonus, those sandbanks would possibly protect the shoreline at least for a while in the next hurricane season before being washed away.

  2. Frederick Davies
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Is this a case of “the perfect being the enemy of the good” or just bloodymindedness? Or is it just Coyote’s Law (http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2004/11/update_on_meyer.html) in action?

    • timetochooseagain
      Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

      “Coyote’s Law” is actually an extension of Hanlon’s Razor. I like a lot of what Warren writes, but I wished he had researched this and realized this wasn’t originally his idea.

  3. EdeF
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

    It looks like Kevin Costner has a good clean-up product too, a machine that
    uses a centrifuge to clean water to 99.9%. Better contain 95% of the oil with
    a Dutch system than allow 100% oil to hit the beaches. The Jones Act protects
    American labor unions so no chance of that getting put aside in this crisis. Louisianna Gov. Bobby Jindal wanted to build temporary barrier reefs to protect the coast but was being delayed by EPA. Report today is that the oil
    spill is closer to 100,000 barrels per day. In a case like this you have to employ everything you have to keep the oil from shore. I would call in the National Guard and hand out Sham-Wow!s.

    • MikeU
      Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 5:23 PM | Permalink

      The Jones Act protects American labor unions so no chance of that getting put aside in this crisis.

      Actually, it’s not exactly unheard-of for that to be waived temporarily, as President Bush did 3 days after Katrina made landfall. The length and terms of the waiver can be provided, as they were here.

      It may not be as politically comfortable for a democrat administration to do so, but even the political calculus on something like this should be pretty obvious: do you want up to 8% of American workers angry with you short-term, or a much higher percentage of the voting public angry with you long-term?

  4. pesadilla
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    Checkout what Obama has been doing during this crisis on

    http://politipage.com/2010/05/28/obamas-days/

    Golf anyone

  5. Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    I think it’s just a matter of not wanting to get help from someone named Wierd Koops (or is it Knoops?)

  6. Gordon Ford
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    Having worked in government its safer to hide behind regulations than to say yes to something that is efficient and practical but ony 99.9% covered in the regulations. A mechanism is required to allow front line managers in government to bypass regulations in times of environmental stress where quick action or approval is required to efectively and efficiently mitigate the situation. The longer it takes for the paperwork to get to the top of the decission tree the more comfortable upper management is. Hopefully by the time the paper reaches the top, the crisis has been resolved or the mainstream media has made the decision.

    • PhilJourdan
      Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 12:59 PM | Permalink

      Gordon is exactly right. Government is bending over backwards to be both fair (stuff like the Jones Act) and not liable for any damage (the oily water issue). As such, it cannot handle disasters like this under normal procedures, and that is where the President (or governor, PM, or King) has to step in and put aside perfection for protection.

      • Gerry
        Posted Jun 23, 2010 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

        The Jones Act is pure bunk. It was created to protect U.S. Merchant Marines from not losing commerce. That clearly did not apply when in the early 70s the U.S. State Department and the Soviets signed contracts for huge amounts of U.S. grain (my husband was party to these contract) I was involved in the shipping contracts of that grain to the Soviet Union. 50% U.S. flag/50% Soviet flag. Soviet ships were coming and going in U.S ports. One can hardly claim that Mega oil tankers responding to a disaster in an effort to remove oil in order to protect America’s coast are engaged in commerce and are a threat to U.S. Merchant Marines.
        Common sense would suggest there is something else at play here. We might try and find out what that is.

  7. Patagon
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

    it looks that your first estimate of the spill was right: http://mobile.reuters.com/mobile/m/FullArticle/p.rdt/CTOP/ntopNews_uUSN1416392020100620
    100,000 bpd
    which makes the EPA attitude even more difficult to understand.

    • oneuniverse
      Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

      Via Wikipedia, the internal BP document estimates ~100,000 bpd as a low probability worst case (“If BOP and wellhead are removed and if we have incorrectly modeled the restrictions”).

    • Phil
      Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 11:53 PM | Permalink

      I am no expert, but after doing a lot of reading at http://www.theoildrum.com, apparently knowledgeable commentators there believe that the original estimates of 1,000 to 5,000 bpd may have been accurate at the very, very beginning of the spill. Subsequent increases have been blamed on abrasive erosion (i.e. sand in the oil/gas mixture) and, because of that, the spill rate is expected to continue to increase and may peak in the 100,000 bpd order of magnitude range, subject to various factors as in the BP link.

      As usual, there doesn’t appear to be a single number that accurately describes what’s happened and is happening.

      Moreover, the outlet flow appears to consist of a significant percentage of gas and may contain a significant fraction of condensates, so the heavier fractions that would foul beaches, etc. would have a volume that would be significantly lower than the raw spill numbers due to evaporation. I would expect the skimmers to only be useful in containing the heavier fractions.

  8. justbeau
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    If these sorts of skimmers are effective and were not part of spill response plans, they should be added hereafter.
    It underscores the poor readiness of BP, the oil industry, the MMS, the Coast Guard, and the EPA, singly and collectively, if useful cleanup equipment has been overlooked. They already allow burns of surface oil, emitting air pollution. And chemical dispersants, an imperfect tactic. So it would be nonsense if skimmers are useful, but have not been brought to bear.

  9. oneuniverse
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    According to the FP article “U.S. not accepting foreign help on oil spill”, the U.S. State Department emailed the press on May 5th, saying:

    “While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future.”

    The offers of assistance were from Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations.

    According to the article, “[a] State Department official, speaking on background, said that the decision not to initially release the names of offering countries came directly from the State Department leadership.”

  10. Richard Hill
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

    I’m sure that others have made this point but I dont see reference back to the key issue. This spill is just one of many. Sure it’s bad, but it is certain that worse will happen in the future. I’d like to see an EPA comment on any response system that can cope with something twice as big closer to sensitive areas. Could an actuary comment on the probability of a worse spill in a fixed time frame?

  11. rabidfox
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    Richard Hill, there is absolutely no need for the EPA or MMS to address the weakness of the oil spill plan since this Administration has no intention of letting ANY oil pumping or drilling anywhere where they have the authority to stop it. But they will provide a nice little subsidy on bicycle powered generators.

  12. BarryW
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    Nothing new. This bureaucratic incompetence has been rampant. They cobbled together vacuum barges to suck up the oil. The Coast Guard stopped them from going out until they could make sure that they had the proper number of life jackets. Of course the Feds could have let them go out and then gone out to check but hey, one must abide by the regs.

    The Governor of Louisiana pleaded with the Feds to allow them to build sand berms to keep the oil off of the beaches, but of course they hadn’t done the environmental impact analysis.

    One of the most telling things is Obama’s reaction to the crisis.
    1. form a group of academics for advising on what to do (how about getting actual people that have dealt with oil spills?)
    2. Propose energy legislation. (tantamount to the captain of the Titanic proposing new lifeboat legislation after he hit the iceberg)
    3. Play golf. (at least he didn’t go yachting with Tony Hayward)

  13. Howard
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 8:36 PM | Permalink

    Discharge of oily water to navigable waters of the US is prohibited by Federal Law.

    Boaters Oil Law Fact Sheet

    Based on my experience with Superfund, Mr. Koops story sounds true, but I hesitate to judge before all the facts are in.

    • BarryW
      Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 9:33 PM | Permalink

      From your link:

      Treating oily water with detergent or dispersants contributes to pollution and makes the oil impossible to clean up. Using these substances can result in a fine of $25,000

      And BP did what?

    • JanF
      Posted Jun 29, 2010 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

      There are enough facts to be founds about the sweeping arms that Mr. Koops is referring to.

      The sweeping arms were also active in the Erika accident (1999) and they did prove themselves. Check for example out this example :

      http://www.iosc.org/papers/01397.pdf

      or

      http://www.osce.org/documents/eea/2008/03/30307_en.pdf

      (page 4)

      Therefore I find the approach to the oil spill cleanup a bit disapponting. A proven solution is rejected in the first place ..

      Grt,

      JanF

  14. JohnB
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

    The Jones act has of course been waived in the past for Katrina, but it’s also been waived at other times also.

    http://www.cruiseco.com/Resources/jones_act.htm

    “Another question we are frequently asked is, can the Jones act be waived or suspended? the answer is Yes, but only during a national emergency. However, over time, a number of exceptions have been made, for example Canadian vessels may transport passengers between Rochester and Alexandria Bay, New York and between southern Alaska and U.S. ports until an American carrier enters the markets. Similarly, foreign vessels may transport passengers between Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland as long as a U.S. carrier does not provide such service. Foreign-flagged cruise ships may carry passengers from a U.S. port as long as they return them to the same port (a “cruise to nowhere”). Foreign vessels may also call at intermediate U.S. ports as long as no passenger permanently leaves the vessel at those ports and the vessel makes at least one call at a foreign port.”

    I have heard that the Jones act was waived for some Off Shore Wind Farms near Delaware but haven’t been able to find anything to verify it. It would be ironic if the fed waived the Jones act for Wind but not Oil.

    It’s worth also seeing the Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, interviews following the oil spill to get an idea of how seriously they treated it at the beginning and to help understand where their minds were at. The oil spill started on 4/19 for reference.

    Here is her Letterman interview from 4/22.

    Here she is on the Daily show on 4/26.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-april-26-2010/lisa-p–jackson

    It provides a good context to compare the feds desire to clean up the oil spill and prevent landfall to climate change legislation and alternative fuels versus how the administration feels today and whether their opinion and goals have changed at all.

  15. M. Jeff
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Permalink

    Excerpts from WSJ Opinion, June 19,2010, concerning … the protectionist Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also called the Jones Act.

    … The Belgian dredging group DEME says it has offered the U.S. specialized vessels and technology that can help clean up the spill in three to four months compared to the estimated nine months that the U.S. will need. There are only a handful of these vessels in the world, and most of them belong to Dutch and Belgian companies. So why aren’t we calling on them?

    … We sympathize with the President’s lament on Monday that “I can’t dive down there and plug the hole. I can’t suck it up with a straw.” But there’s no excuse for turning away ships that can clean up the oil merely because that might offend Mr. Obama’s union friends.

  16. Doug in Seattle
    Posted Jun 20, 2010 at 11:19 PM | Permalink

    In an emergency situation, which I think the gulf leak is, one does not rely on the bureaucracy to run things in its usual manner. Nearly all the mistakes we have seen since the initial blow out can be traced back to one or more bureaucrats insisting on following established policy and procedure.

    I hesitate to call the US government negligent, but they certainly are either extremely naive or incompetent if they think skimmers should pass through usual pollution discharge protocols when doing so will result in far greater environmental harm in the present circumstances.

  17. Pat Moffitt
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 12:00 AM | Permalink

    My understanding is that this may have more to do with EPA than the Jones Act as the Dutch offered to fly the skimmers over and allow them to be mounted on US ships. I also think it would be relatively easy to find some API or DAF separators in the US. But their operation would require a permit which may be why their has been a problem with tanker storage capacity. If you can’t discharge the separated water you must store the entire mixture.If this is the case (questions as yet unanswered)-it borders on the criminally insane.

    I’m just amazed the attention Congress paid to Costner’s centrifuges. Separating oil from water is not rocket science- API separators and DAF units have long term proven reliability. The last thing I would want to use off shore is a centrifuge.
    Costner’s company claims that his centrifuges remove 99% so that could mean as much as 10,000mg/L of oil in the separated water stream and would still run afoul of EPA criteria.

    The last time the US had a spill like this was from Uboat torpedos in the first half of 1942 (175 million gallons) along the mid Atlantic coast and about 100 mil gal in the Gulf. Public outraqe ensued– freezing as we were from the lack of heating oil. How soon we forget.

  18. Rhoda R
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 12:16 AM | Permalink

    I don’t like conspiracy theories, but… Today it’s come out that thid Administration won’t address border security until Amnesty is passes. I’m wondering if Gulf Coast cleanup is being held hostage to Cap & Trade.

    • Doug in Seattle
      Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 12:39 AM | Permalink

      Does kinda sound like Chicago politics. Maybe you aren’t paranoid.

  19. peterdek
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 3:13 AM | Permalink

    There are many similarities between the Gulf spill and the Kuwaity oil fires.

    The final environmental damages will probably be limited, but also the fact that solutions are sometimes found at unusual places. Using the famous Red Adair blasting technique it would have taken dozens of teams and years to stop the fires (compare the hundreds of boats trying to clean up the spill).

    Until the unlikely Hungarians were flown in, with a ‘novel’ technique.

    http://misterian.com/2009/08/jet-engine-used-to-extinguish-kuwait-oil-fires/

    lesson; you cannot solve problems with bureaucrats, the army (or coast guard), and especially lawyers.

    • Roger Carr
      Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

      Enlightening snippet of history, peterdek. I was still under the impression “Red” had handled it. Well worth the half minute to read and watch. Thank you.

      • John in L du B
        Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 9:41 AM | Permalink

        The Hungarian method was used to extinguish 6 fires according to the link. Actually the most Kuwait fires (180 of about 600) were extinguished by Safety Boss.

    • Doug in Seattle
      Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

      Be wary of this link to miterian. My AV program reports it as unsafe due to multiple redirection threats.

      • Posted Jun 23, 2010 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

        Don’t worry about my site! I’m “Mister Ian”. I saw a busy day on my site due to the link so I backtracked to here.

        Your AV program is not right (hopefully). It might not be up to date as on May 8 my site was hacked because of a weak password but since then it has been fixed and even updated to the latest WordPress version.

        If you really think your AV software is telling the truth send me the links by a reply here and I’ll dig into it! I don’t want my site screwed up. Thanks

    • peterdek
      Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

      other link

      http://www.caranddriver.com/features/01q2/stilling_the_fires_of_war-feature/big_wind_page_4

      and the same video

  20. Geckko
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 3:40 AM | Permalink

    This is hte organisation that is about to command direct and complete regulatory control over the emission of CO2 for any reason by any person or organisation in the US.

    Good luck with that.

  21. Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    If this is true, it would be a perfect example of a regulation being applied where it’s not needed. “No, you can’t use that method of pulling oil out of the water because you might put a little bit of oil in the water.”

  22. JAE
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    Evidently, EPA has waived the problem regulations:

    http://michellemalkin.com/2010/06/16/more-stuck-on-stupid-epa-vs-the-dutch/

  23. Phillip Bratby
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    There was a BBC radio 4 programme called Material World on 7th June (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sjtb2#synopsis) which includeed the following:

    “Quentin Cooper presents his weekly digest of science in and behind the headlines. This week the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now into its third month. So some of the more “out there” ideas for tackling the disaster are beginning to seem more appealing. Ideas like using naturally occurring bacteria to break down the oil without the need for possibly toxic clean-up chemicals. This approach has already been successfully trialled by a team from the University of Bangor. Christoph Gertler from the School of Biological Sciences discusses with Quentin if it is still too soon to make an impact on the world’s largest oil spill.

    Apparently an offer of help was made but I think it was rejected.

  24. Les Johnson
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

    This is a common problem around the world. Even in Nigeria, it is illegal to take a bucket of sea water, and dump it straight back into the Bay of Biafra.

    The local sea water does not meet the Nigerian standards for discharge of water.

    There is no allowance for extraordinary circumstances, nor anyone in the bureaucracy with the cojones to allow deviations from the standards, even though the deviation would be for the greater good.

  25. Murray Duffin
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    The Jones act has a clear exception for oil spills. I saw on MSNBC a few night ago that Dutch and Norwegian help was accepted and has been operating since late May. They weren’t specific about the kind of eqpt, but I think I heard “skimmers”. It would be interesting to get to the truth. Murray

  26. Murray Duffin
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

    As I read the Jones act, there is a clear exception for oil spills. I saw on MSNBC that offers of help were accepted from Norway and Holland, and eqpt has been working since late May. It would be nice to know the truth. As for the amount of oil leaking, you could make a pretty good estimates for the first few weeks from the videos. The pipe was 21 inches dia, was squeezed at least a bit and was discharging a lot of gas with the oil. An undistorted pipe with 100% oil would have the discharge moving 16 feet per second to flow 60,000 bbl/day. It looked to me more like 6 feet/sec and 50% gas or 10,000 bbl/day max. Since they cut the riser and put in the revised recovery they have peaked at 25,000 bbl/day. I think the media is grossly exaggerating the flow rate, aided by “scientists”. However that doesn’t really lessen the disaster. Murray

  27. Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    As a resident of the west gulf coast of Florida, I have a stake in this game. That doesn’t mean much, but what I have to say does. Everybody knows the best way to clean up a spill is not allow it to spread. Using the EPAs own documents explains ‘don’t allow the oil to reach shore’ where the maximum damage is done.

    So here we have massive regulatory failure. First in allowing the risky single casing design to be used, and second by MMS approving every drill step along the way. Including the well control issues of Feb 10, 2010 and forward. An event that took three tries before succeeding. As was noted in Congressional testimony that alone should have shut down the drilling.

    And after the 1989 Exxon Valdez debacle, Congress passed the 1990 OPA. In which it assigned the duty of fixing the leak to the company that caused it, and the containment and cleanup to the President.

    Who doesn’t think that 10% of the oil spilled isn’t better than 100% — You decide.

  28. Pops
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    Apparently, the White-House was told by BP about problems with the well 6 weeks before it blew….

    http://kevinmccullough.townhall.com/blog/g/fd131f89-73c9-4515-a112-84afb499f95b

  29. Pat Moffitt
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

    If what Michell Malkin said today is true- then it has nothing to do with the Dutch or the Jones Act. (It also fits with earlier concerns expressed that there was insuffcient tanker storage. If you are continually separating the oil from water you don’t require massive storage capacities.) If EPA prevented the separated water from skimming/separation operations to be discharged heads must roll.

  30. David Smith
    Posted Jun 21, 2010 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    Here is an interesting article worth a read:

    http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_60341.shtml

    We all hope they are wrong, of course.

    The argument they explore has plausibility. It may be wrong, of course, but it’s an intriguing (and grim) view.

    The dread of a looming mega-mess could account for the poor communication – no one, BP or the Feds, wants to trigger even greater public outrage and no one wants their quotes to be used as hammers on them later.

  31. JohnB
    Posted Jun 23, 2010 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

    Senator George Lemieux comments here that the US has employed only 20 of 2000 skimmers to help clean up the gulf. The remainder are in standby waiting in case of future oil spills.

    • PhilJourdan
      Posted Jun 23, 2010 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

      Reminds me of the movie – In Harm’s Way. Where the admiral’s penchant for organization was crippling the goal of the USA – i.e. to win the war.

  32. pesadilla
    Posted Jun 25, 2010 at 5:53 AM | Permalink

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/111965

    This is a devastating article and a must read in connection with this disaster.

  33. Posted Jul 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    There is no mystery here. The Houston Chronicle heard from Gert Visser, the Dutch consul in Texas, and reported that Obama’s administration had turned down the Dutch offer, which was tendered on April 23, 3 days after the accident.
    The problem is not to find the truth. The problem is to deal with it.
    So far Americans seem perfectly content to sacrifice the entire Gulf eco-system. it would not be nice to blame the president. We just can’t do that, now can we? He has the Nobel so he isn’t capable of doing what he did — er, what he is said to have done.

    http://laiglesforum.com/2010/06/10/high-level-eco-terror-or-incompetence/

  34. Posted Jul 1, 2010 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    Fortunately, I read Dutch, and according to an account here:

    http://www.nieuws.nl/598328

    the skimmers are not even on their way yet. They are anticipated to arrive on Monday.
    US “mainstream” media?
    WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE? WHERE ARE YOU? AN ECO-SYSTEM MAY SOON BE DEAD AND YOU ARE NO WHERE TO BE FOUND! THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. Take your heads out of the ground!

  35. Texan99
    Posted Jul 1, 2010 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to follow this story, too, since I noticed it on Instapundit about a week ago. The best I can tell, the EPA has never yet waived the 15 ppm oil standard; the skimmers are either not being allowed to enter and operate, or they’re being required to haul the 85/15 water/oil mix back to port. Michelle Malkin’s piece quoted from the Canadian Financial Post article and drew the conclusion that the EPA waiver had been granted, but the article didn’t actually say that. It’s July 1 and STILL no waiver. The “A-Whale,” for instance, was reported by the A.P. only yesterday to be parked off Louisiana but still awaiting an EPA waiver.

  36. David Smith
    Posted Jul 4, 2010 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Report from the oil spill area:

    I’m in Pensacola, Florida this week, on the beach. This is one of the areas which has seen landfall of material from the spill.

    What we see on the beach are “tar balls” which are typically the size of flattened English peas. Over an hour we see about one tar pea (English pea size)wash up every five feet.

    There are crews working the beaches collecting and disposing of these peas.

    We also see some spots, typically about a square meter, of slightly discolored sand. I assume these are where sheen-like material has washed ashore. The sand here is a brilliant white, so they are apparent.

    The current situation has little effect on beachgoers. My concern is that some of the peas will bury themselves in the sand and therefore be slow to degrade. The sand remains absolutely beautiful and we’re having a great time.

    I’ll post again as the week moves along.

  37. Posted Oct 25, 2010 at 2:22 AM | Permalink

    The news on this oil spill seems to have gone quiet in recent months.

    Has the oil dispersed now from the shores and marsh lands thus life returing to normal?

  38. Bill Reeder
    Posted Feb 19, 2012 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    Oil Spill Eater II

    US EPA ENFORCES ANTIQUATED OIL SPILL CLEAN UP PROTOCOLS COSTING GULF ECONOMY $BILLIONS IN LOSSES
     
    23 Years of Denial
     
    Much of what was being reported about in 2011 as the aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill has not covered an important point: Oil is still leaking from the seabed floor BP well zone and millions of barrels are still submerged and residing in the water column–HOW WILL THE TOXIC GULF BE CLEANED UP
     
    There are many ongoing blog and media reports about the aftermath from the spill and millions being spent on studies to find out how marine life, water and other mediums have been affected. Further, as recent as Sept 13, 2011 reports on numerous sightings of new oil slicks in the vicinity of the original BP Spill are bringing attention back to the area. Lab tests showing it to be BP oil finally forced the admittance by the responsible oil company that it was their oil. Sadly, none of this coverage brings to light the most crucial issue; continued use of dispersants which do not remediate the oil and hence do not relieve the continued toxic stress on the ecosystem with adverse economic and health effects to Gulf Coast residents. And this cycle of new oil surfacing and repeatedly spraying Corexit to disperse it, has proven to compound environmental damage for which BP and government agencies enforcing destructive protocols should be held financially accountable.
     
    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits there are “trade-offs” to using Corexit, however their explanation of these and why they favor its use on their website, are absurd. (See EPA Link)
     
    The combined events of the BP Oil Spill and the application of this [outmoded] cleanup method (millions of gallons of Corexit(R)) resulted in high toxicity levels persisting in the GOM region until as recent as March 201l* – levels well above earlier official safety threshold standards set in 1999 which, for some unexplained reason, were raised by much higher percentiles within a few months after the beginning of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. [a means of blinding people from identifying potential public health and seafood contamination risks] .These toxicity levels are still adversely affecting human health and marine life in the region.  

    EPA and other federal agency statements announcing the clean up was successful and assuring the public that seafood was safe to consume and that the environment was safe to use were clearly premature and misrepresentative to the public, suggesting ineffective clean-up protocols and potential negligence on the part of the EPA.  The most recent scientific data on this issue are fact-based, and those facts are now being reported in scientific literature.  

    More notably, BP had made formal requests to use bio remediation clean up technology to avoid these toxic trade-offs and initiated testing on a product called Oil Spill Eater II (already approved and listed on EPA’s National Contingency Plan for Oil Spill Response) to replace Corexit. BP’s request, along with those from gulf state officials, including Governor Jindal of Louisiana, were denied by EPA and Regional Response Team officials. The EPA denial letter cited science that erroneously grouped this ready-to-deploy, proven clean up product with “questionable” remediation products examined. In a June 2010 EPA letter, BP’s official request was denied, (correspondence relevant to the issue-Attachment 5, 6). Per Gulf Rescue Alliance sources BP’s Chief Council referenced that letter and stated in a recent meeting that their hands were tied where the use of bioremediation (OSE II ) was concerned – “BP is bound by it”—bound by the EPA mandate [to keep using Corexit]. Consequentially it is estimated that BP could have saved an estimated $36 billion in clean up costs if they had deployed the EPA approved alternative to Corexit.
     
    Gulf Rescue Alliance (GRA) has voluminous documentation indicating the EPA arbitrarily blocked and continues to prevent the use of eco friendly bioremediation clean up technology in favor of Corexit despite ample science indicating it is fatally toxic to marine life and even humans.
     
    Bottom line: Use of bioremediation could have saved BILLIONS in clean up costs and result in an end point to the disaster. (See Economic Comparison article) BP’s attempt to use an alternative is a significant point and the resultant damage caused by Corexit is proving to be quite concerning for escalating clean up costs.
     
    We applaud Surfrider Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity for its recent action of filing suit against the EPA over the use of dispersants reinforcing the case that EPA oil spill cleanup response protocols are wholly inadequate.
     
    While the EPA, NOAA and Coast Guard remain in denial and continue to roadblock the use of Bioremediation, perhaps this suit will open the door for permitting the deployment of safe and effective cleanup methods available and ready for use right now to stop the killing in the Gulf Waters. And if one had no regard for the marine life and saving the ecosystem, possibly the continued threat of loss in BP Stock value will incite action.
     
    While allowing Nalco Holding Company, the manufacturer of Corexit, to use up their existing stockpiles in the country, the UK has banned the product from further subsequent use. 
    oOo
     

    • Posted Feb 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

      Oil is leaking from the sea floor in many many places naturally. How does the still-leaking BP rig compare with those?

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