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Alabama Fire Chiefs: BP Is Preventing Our Trained Local Officials From Assisting In The Oil Spill Response

By Zaid Jilani on June 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm

"Alabama Fire Chiefs: BP Is Preventing Our Trained Local Officials From Assisting In The Oil Spill Response"

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BP and federal responders continue to battle the petroleum company’s oil spill as it continues to devastate the southeastern coast of the United States. Now, a group of fire chiefs from Baldwin County, Alabama, which is located along the state’s coastline, are alleging that the oil giant is complicating this battle by “purposely keeping trained local officials away from the spill response”:

Fire chiefs along Alabama’s coast are complaining about BP’s response to the Gulf oil spill crisis. The 36-member Baldwin County Fire Chiefs Association sent a letter Wednesday to the unified command and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley saying the company appears to be purposely keeping trained local officials away from the spill response. They also say they’re getting far too little official information about what’s going on.

Addressing BP, the fire chiefs write in their letter, “Interestingly our services are free or at most cost reimbursable. [Y]ou have chosen to use commercial operations at exorbitant costs. … To be kept totally out of the loop in this disaster makes no sense. Our citizens have come to expect a high level of response from us. With us having no information for them we are not meeting their needs. They deserve better than they are getting.”

Local Alabama news station WKRG reports that the chiefs had planned to meet with the oil company last week to relay their concerns, but “company officials cancelled the meeting at the last minute.” The chiefs say “their experience in hazardous material situations and knowledge of the region could be beneficial in the cleanup. But so far, BP has done a terrible job of communicating with local agencies.” Watch it:

BP Spokesman Ashley Babb denies that the company ever agreed to meet with the fire chiefs. “Since Day 1, we’ve tried to contact these people to say we’re available. We’re here,” Gib Hixon, president of the Baldwin County Fire Chiefs Association, told the Mobile Press-Register. “We’ve offered our facilities for logistics, staging, training. They have totally ignored us.”

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