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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid