Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Efforts to Repel Oil Spill Are Described as Chaotic

The New York Times
Published: June 14, 2010

"GRAND ISLE, La. — Deano Bonano, the emergency preparedness director for Jefferson Parish, marched from a motor home being used as a command center to an office across the street filled with BP officials.

It was late May. Oil had been creeping into the passes around Grand Isle. Two fleets of fishing boats were supposed to be laying out boom, the long floating barriers to corral oil and protect the fragile marshes of Barataria Bay.

But the boats were gathered on the inland side of the bay — the wrong side — anchored idly as the oil oozed in from the Gulf of Mexico. BP officials said they had no way of contacting the workers on the boats, Mr. Bonano recalled.

“You’re watching the oil come in,” Mr. Bonano said, “and they can’t even move.”

For much of the last two months, the focus of the response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion has been a mile underwater, 50 miles from shore, where successive efforts involving containment domes, “top kills” and “junk shots” have failed, and a “spillcam” shows tens of thousands of barrels of oil hemorrhaging into the gulf each day.

Closer to shore, the efforts to keep the oil away from land have not fared much better, despite a response effort involving thousands of boats, tens of thousands of workers and millions of feet of containment boom.

From the beginning, the effort has been bedeviled by a lack of preparation, organization, urgency and clear lines of authority among federal, state and local officials, as well as BP. As a result, officials and experts say, the damage to the coastline and wildlife has been worse than it might have been if the response had been faster and orchestrated more effectively.

“The present system is not working,” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said Thursday at a hearing in Washington devoted to assessing the spill and the response. Oil had just entered Florida waters, Senator Nelson said, adding that no one was notified at either the state or local level, a failure of communication that echoed Mr. Bonano’s story and countless others along the Gulf Coast." More>>>>

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