Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gulf oil spill assessment: 'Unprepared'

"A second commission report said that the oil industry and the government have not spent the money they promised to improve cleanup equipment and technique for oil spills. Despite billions of dollars in profits, oil companies spend only a few million dollars a year on cleanup technology. The federal government in 2010 spent $7.4 million on oil spill research. In 1993, when adjusted for inflation, the federal government spent $20.3 million on the subject."

Gulf oil spill assessment: 'Unprepared'

Hearst Newspapers
In Print: Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WASHINGTON — Investigators exploring the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reported Monday that underestimates of the amount of oil flowing from the blown-out Macondo well "impeded" attempts by BP and the government to contain the gusher.

The staff of the presidential commission investigating the disaster also cast the government and industry as ill-prepared to tackle a deep-water blowout in reports that provide a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at the five-month battle to rein in the runaway well.

"The oil and gas industry was unprepared to respond to a deep-water blowout, and the federal government was similarly unprepared to providing meaningful supervision," said one commission staff report.

But the staff also singled out successes — including BP's "herculean" simultaneous attempts to develop containment strategies and the "critical" intervention of U.S. Geological Survey scientists whose assessment of the well's containment cap persuaded engineers not to abandon it.

The commission authorized by President Barack Obama is on track to release its findings about the cause of the Deepwater Horizon disaster — and what should be done to prevent a repeat — in January. The commission is headed by Bob Graham, a former Florida senator and governor, and former EPA administrator William K. Reilly. In reports Monday, the commission recommends that the government require industry to put new diagnostic tools on blowout preventers and other key devices used at the wellhead "that would provide more information in the case of a blowout."

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