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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where are the OSRVs?

The Maine Responder, a 208' OSRV (Oil Spill Recovery Vessel), left last week for the Gulf. It should have arrived on-scene this past Tuesday. It was part of a fleet of nine other OSRVs of similar design and function, all from East Coast ports, sent to assist in the Gulf clean-up. Near as I can tell, the Maine Responder departed on May 5th. Why did it take this vessel, and perhaps the others, twelve or thirteen days to get mobilized and underway? We, the supposedly "uninformed" public, had a pretty good idea how bad this this spill was going to be almost immediately, at least by the 23rd of April. By Saturday, April 28th, NOAA and the USCG had raised their estimates from 1,000 bpd to 5,000 bpd. (See the SkyTruth Timetable of Estimates Below.) If we consider the April 28th date as the official trigger point, then it's still six or seven days to get the ship mobilized and underway. That, in my opinion, is not very responsive, given the seriousness of the spill and the steaming time from here to there. Seven days at 5,000 bpd (and SkyTruth's estimates are 26,500 bpd) mean that, at the very least, another million gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf.

This is the reason I'm so critical of the Obama administration. The White House's delay in acknowledging the extent of the spill and the potential for disaster made it more difficult for State's and/or municipalities to approve the mobilization of critical resources. And there are still resources at our disposal that aren't being utilized.

OSRVs are on site and standing by in Scandinavia and Turkey. All they need is the right word from the U.S. Government.

Obama should have given this incident national emergency status within days of the sinking of Deepwater Horizon. Instead, he waited eleven days. He didn't tour the site until Sunday, May 2nd, when he finally acknowledged the severity of the disaster and announced a 100% government commitment. On May 4th, local newspapers reported the Maine Responder and nine other similar vessels from the East Coast would leave for the Gulf. Is it a coincidence? I think not.

Now we have word the Administration put forth a request for $118 million in humanitarian assistance for the people in the Gulf. ON May 12th. That's two weeks after NOAA and the USCG claimed this would be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Don't forget that Bush got knee-capped for failing to respond to the Katrina disaster even though he signed a $140 million dollar emergency aid bill four days after the hurricane's landfall. I'm not making excuses or defending Bush. I'm just trying trying to put this Administration's lack of action in perspective.

But here's the big problem. This is a 'humanitarian' assistance package, NOT emergency response money. It's a proposal to be tacked on to a pending legislation package (and oh how this administration loves it legislation packages). This money will not help the environment. It will not help save ecologically sensitive areas. It will not bring in more OSRVs. It will not save turtles or dolphins or critical natural habitat. It will do what this Administration wants it to do, extend unemployment and worker's compensation.

We need OSRVs. As many as we can get. Out there, in the Gulf, sucking up oil before it gets to the coasts. And we need to start building OSRVs in this country. Big ones. This incident, and our nation's response to it, is absolutely sickening.

If we're going to continue exploiting deep water offshore wells we need to get our sh*t together.


1 comment:

matt said...

I have been trying to get a number on how many of these stupid ships are even in the gulf right now for the last month. I know marine spill response corp alone had 6 stationed in the gulf states, but absolutely no one seems to know in the entire state of florida or at the command in new orleans. And when I finally got connected to someone actually at gulf spill response corp, they told me they weren't authorized to release that info. The only figure I've gotten was an unsolicited count of several dozen, but when I tried to verify, I couldn't even find anyone at the small agency who quoted that figure here in florida who seemed to know. Most had never even heard of these ships, and wasn't aware that BP actually contracts out clean up.