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Updated: May 21, 2010 11:47 IST

U.S. seeks full transparency in oil disaster

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Oil emanating from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak is seen in this aerial photo taken Wednesday, May 19, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
AP Oil emanating from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak is seen in this aerial photo taken Wednesday, May 19, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.

The United States government on Thursday demanded that British Petroleum (BP) provide full transparency over its failed efforts to stop an oil gusher, setting a 24-hour deadline for BP to publish data it has collected from the “massive” environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter addressed to BP chief Tony Hayward, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano wrote of the growing concern that BP’s efforts “have fallen short in both their scope and effectiveness” to stop the crude oil gusher.

BP has been wrestling for a month to stop the huge well rupture that has spewed more than 5,000 barrels a day — possibly as much as 70,000 barrels a day — of crude oil into the Gulf waters. The well was ripped open when the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded on April 20.

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster that has already impacted the lives and livelihoods of countless people in the Gulf Coast region,” Mr. Napolitano wrote.

The letter reflects growing frustration about whether BP has been withholding information, including the true extent of the spill. It took three weeks and massive pressure for BP to finally release just a snippet of underwater footage of the gusher last week.

This week, BP succumbed to added demands and made a live video feed available to a congressional committee probing the spill. The video is available on the internet, and CNN has been running it sporadically through the day.

Based on the running video, scientists have increased their leak estimates to 70,000 barrels a day. BP has said the 5,000 barrels a day is just an estimate, more important than establishing the size of the spill was stopping it.

“It is imperative that BP promptly provide to the United States government and the public all data and information” regarding the spill, Mr. Napolitano wrote.

The letter gives BP a 24—hour deadline to post all sampling and monitoring plans, video, reports from its contractors and results of its internal investigations.

“All information should be posted on a publicly accessible website,” the letter said, adding that the public and the US government were “entitled to nothing less than complete transparency.”


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