News / USA

US Government Officials Grilled on Seafood Safety

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid