News / USA

Gulf Coast Officials Call for Leadership in Oil Spill Response

Local mayors and parish leaders from parts of Louisiana devastated by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico testified before a Senate Homeland Security panel Thursday. The local leaders blasted the response by oil company BP and the federal government and called on Congress to establish clear lines of authority in dealing with the crisis.  

A Senate homeland security subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to assess the local impact of an oil spill caused by the explosion of a Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

The President of Lousiana's Plaquemines Parish, Billy Nungesser, called on President Barack Obama to put someone with courage in charge of the response to the massive spill, saying someone has to be able to take action much more quickly. "I still don't know who is in charge - is it BP, is it the Coast Guard?  When I get mad enough at a meeting, the Coast Guard in our office stands up and says 'I can make that happen'."  When I throw a BP official out of my office, he comes back the next day and approves something.  I have spent more time fighting the officials of BP and the Coast Guard than fighting the oil," he said.

The parish leader called on BP and the federal government to quickly deploy more boats with vacuuming equipment to suction up oil from the fragile marshlands in his parish.   And Nungesser said it was an insult when officials simply fly over the oil-coated waters.  "You can't see it from the air.  You got to go down there and touch it.  You got to pull into that marsh and see there is absolutely no life, everything is dead.  I will make you a prediction; we will lose more coastline from this disaster in Louisiana than we lost from [Hurricanes] Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike combined," he said.

Another local leader, David Camardelle, the mayor of the barrier island community, Grand Isle, said people in Louisiana are better equipped to deal with the ravages of a hurricane than this massive, man-made disaster. "Anyone in Louisiana can protect anybody from hurricanes.  I told the president that, you send me anywhere in the world, you give me 10 days, I can make a difference with hurricanes.  But right now, my hands are tied.  I am dealing with an oil company; we have no say-so," he said.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida agreed with the local leaders present at the hearing that it is not clear who is in charge of the response operation.  He said that officials in Florida were not even warned Wednesday when oil began entering Florida's waters.  Nelson called for the U.S. military to take a greater role in the response effort, saying it has the best command-and-control system in the world.  He said the way things are running now is not acceptable.

"How many more examples of this do we have to say until the command-and-control structure is changed.  You cannot leave BP in control of this, because they are not going to get it done," he said.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen is leading the federal response to the spill.  He said on Thursday that he and other government officials would meet with BP to discuss damage claims problems.  Out-of-work oil rig crews, shrimpers, oystermen, seafood businesses and others affected by the spill are complaining that they are waiting to be compensated by BP for their loss of income.  At the hearing Thursday, the Vice President of Strategy for BP America, Raymond Dempsey, defended his company's response.

"Senator, I will assure you that BP is not delaying the delivery of resources to support this response.  It is important to note that in the unified command structure there is indeed a decision-making process.  As part of that unified command, we have to operate within that process, and we are supportive of providing all the resources necessary to address this spill," he said.

Dempsey said it is clear that Admiral Allen is in charge of the response efforts, and that BP has already paid some 20,000 claims and spent a total of about $1.4 billion to date on damages and the clean-up effort.  Congress is continuing to hold hearings on the oil spill, and President Obama met with leaders of both houses of Congress to discuss the disaster Thursday.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid