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?
SEYFERT-MARGOLIS: No.
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

Afghan Government: Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms Omar died in 2013, although Taliban sources continue to deny reclusive leader has been dead for more than two years More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs