Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Homeland Security damage control in the Gulf

July 2 : CNN : "The US Coast Guard announced new rules keeping photographers, reporters and anyone else from coming within 65 feet of any response vessel or booms, out on the water or on beaches.Violators could face a fine of $40,000 and class D felony charges. The coast guard tried to make the exclusion zone 300 feet before scaling it down to 65 feet."

July 3 : MSNBC : A photographer taking pictures of a BP refinery in Texas was detained by a BP security official, local police and a man who said he was from the Department of Homeland Security.

July 4 : Bloomberg : The US government is expected to take over control of the central information website on the Gulf oil spill response that has been run jointly by various agencies and BP for the 2 1/2 months since the rig explosion.

The Department of Homeland Security wants a one-stop shop for information that is completely overseen by the government as it settles into the long-haul of dealing with the response to the disaster. The U.S. Coast Guard falls under Homeland Security's authority.

The deepwaterhorizonresponse.com site may still be maintained during the changeover, but ultimately it will be taken down altogether when the government moves the response information to its own website."

July 6 : Washington Post : "In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day.

In a March report that was not questioned by federal officials, BP said it had the capacity to skim and remove 491,721 barrels of oil each day in the event of a major spill.
As of Monday, with about 2 million barrels released into the gulf, the skimming operations that were touted as key to preventing environmental disaster have averaged less than 900 barrels a day.

On Monday, the joint operations center for the federal government and BP reported that more than 671,428 barrels of an oil-water mixture have been captured and stored. About 90 percent of the mixture is water, so the true amount of oil skimmed is relatively small -- roughly 67,143 barrels of oil. Had the estimated amounts in the March response plan been accurate, 38 million barrels of oil could have been removed by now. "

Although the US House of Representatives voted 420 to 1 to give the presidential commission investigating the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico full subpoena power, the Republicans in the Senate have blocked it. There will be no real investigation.

Instead, the Coast Guard, under the auspices of Homeland Security, and Minerals Management Services, the federal body charged with (not doing any) oversight of oil drilling and now renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, will announce this week the creation of an expert panel to conduct a "preparedness review" for Deepwater Horizon.

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