National Incident Commander Thad Allen has rebuked BP for being “very pleased” about the company’s failed efforts to contain the disaster he described as an “insidious enemy” that is “holding the gulf hostage.” On Saturday, BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar said “the company funneled about 250,000 gallons of oil in the first 24 hours from a containment cap installed on the well” to a drilling ship on the ocean surface. “That operation has gone extremely well,” Fryar said at an Alabama news conference. “We are very pleased.” On CNN’s State of the Union, Allen rebuked Fryar, telling Candy Crowley that nobody “should be pleased as long as there’s oil in the water”:
ALLEN: We are making the right progress. I don’t think anybody should be pleased as long as there is oil in the water. They have been able to put a containment cap over the leak site, start to bring oil to the surface and start turning off the vents. Nobody should be pleased until the relief well is done.
“The facts are, there is oil on the beach,” Allen concluded. “We need to keep focusing on that. This is an insidious enemy attacking our shores. It’s holding the gulf hostage.”
The effectiveness of the containment cap in limiting the flow of oil into the ocean is actually entirely unclear. Cutting the riser pipe may have increased the gusher, whose flow rate is unknown. The estimate of 500,000 to 850,000 gallons a day is just a lower bound estimate from before the riser pipe cut, the scientists who worked on the official Flow Rate Technical Group have explained. The live underwater video shows no apparent reduction in the oil spewing into the gulf.
BP has a long record of being “very pleased” with their failed efforts to stop the leak and contain the spread of oil, which has now led to the closure of a third of the Gulf of Mexico, an area larger than the state of Florida:
May 17: “I’m really pleased we’ve had success now,” BP COO Doug Suttles says. “We’ve actually had what we call this riser insertion tube working more than 24 hours now.”
May 26: “As the admiral has mentioned, it’s disappointing, we do have oil ashore at nine different locations in the state of Louisiana,” Suttles says, before finding a silver lining. “But we still have no oil ashore in either Alabama, Mississippi, or Florida, which we’re very pleased about.”
May 27: “As I’ve mentioned before, the equipment actually has performed very well,” Suttles says about the top kill effort, which replaced the failed riser insertion tube. “We are very pleased with the performance of the equipment so far.”
May 28: “I’ve done this many, many times now and I can tell you that the battle offshore, we’re winning that battle,” Suttles claims. “It’s the least amount of oil that I’ve seen offshore since my very first flight, so I’m very, very pleased with the activity of the offshore team.”
May 29: “I’m very pleased to say the amount of oil on the surface of the sea continues to be reduced,” Suttles bizarrely claims, as BP abandons the failed “top kill” effort.
June 5: “Over the last 24 hours we’ve been able to collect 6,000 barrels of oil,” BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar tells reporters in Mobile, AL, “so we’re very pleased with that operation.”
Cross-posted on the Wonk Room.