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BP Is Criticized Over Oil Spill, but U.S. Missed Chances to Act

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CAMPBELL ROBERTSON and ERIC LIPTON
NY Times
May 1, 2010

NEW ORLEANS — As oil edged toward the Louisiana coast and fears continued to grow that the leak from a seabed oil well could spiral out of control, officials in the Obama administration publicly chastised BP America for its handling of the spreading oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

Yet a review of the response suggests it may be too simplistic to place all the blame for the unfolding environmental catastrophe on the oil company. The federal government also had opportunities to move more quickly, but did not do so while it waited for a resolution to the spreading spill from BP.

The Department of Homeland Security waited until Thursday to declare that the incident was “a spill of national significance,” and then set up a second command center in Mobile, Ala. The actions came only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased fivefold to 5,000 barrels a day.

The delay meant that the Homeland Security Department waited until late this week to formally request a more robust response from the Department of Defense, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledging even as late as Thursday afternoon that she did not know if the Defense Department even had equipment that might be helpful.

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This article was posted: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 1:47 am





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