News / USA

US Government Officials Grilled on Seafood Safety

Some U.S. government officials were on the hot seat Thursday about the safety of seafood after the gulf oil spill.  The disaster has severely affected the fishing and tourism industries of the Gulf Coast. Oil first began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico after an April 20 explosion on a rig leased by BP, which ruptured the oil well and killed 11 workers.  Now that the oil well has been sealed, questions are being asked about eating Gulf seafood.

Most U.S. representatives have exited Washington for summer recess.  That's why the chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts was the only legislator present.  But the Democrat from Massachusetts grilled the government scientists who came to testify.

"Of the 4.1 million barrels of oil that actually went into the ocean, what percent was removed by BP?," he asked. He asked the question of Bill Lehr, the senior scientist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Lehr's staffers hastily produced a calculator and offered the figure to the congressman.

LEHR: "So, I need to multiply by 1.2 those percentages. So, roughly the burn would be six per cent, and the skimmed would be four per cent.
MARKEY: "So between the skimming and the burning, ten percent of the 4.1 million barrels would have been removed from the ocean, leaving 90 percent unaccounted for."  

Lehr said said the cleanup was comparable to a government standard of success from 1989.  That was the number used in the Exxon Valdez Oil spill, up to this point the largest ever in U.S. waters.  And, Congressman Markey reacted. "Even using a 21 year old grading system, that BP has done a very poor job in cleaning up the Gulf," he said.

Representative Markey also criticized fish studies done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency that tests food safety. The FDA's Vicki Seyfert-Margolis had said nearly every ph test for chemicals came out negative, some 1,000 times below the safe level.

MARKEY: Have you been looking at fish inside the oiled areas?
MARKEY: No. I think that's important for people and I would recommend to you that you do some testing there."

The concern is that contaminated fish from the oil spill would migrate to areas reopened for fishing.  The representative also said the numbers would give scientists a baseline for the most polluted waters.

Dean Blanchard's seafood business used to supply a good amount of shrimp in the U.S.  He says BP's intent was not to clear the oil. "It was cheaper to sink it: out of sight, out of mind, and out of here.  That was BPs approach. But as far as going back to our seafood tested --our seafood is probably being tested more than any other product in the world," he said.

A group of independent scientists said Thursday they have discovered a 35-kilometer long underwater plume of oil -- about 900 meters below the surface.  That seemed to be supported by Acy Cooper, the Vice President of the Louisiana Shrimpers Association.  "It's not gone.  It's on the bottom. We can take you and show you. I took the coast guard out. I brought BP and showed them. You stir the bottom up and it comes up," he said.

"The reason that we are having this hearing is so BP knows, we aren't going away.  We know that BP does not stand for "be prepared," Representative Markey said.

No one from BP attended the hearing.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs