September 27, 2010

Oil Spill Investigation Underway In Washington

On Monday, an independent commission kicked off a two-day meeting in Washington to investigate the massive oil spill from the BP-leased rig that set off the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

The commission, which was set up by President Barack Obama, will probe the use of controversial chemical dispersants to combat the spill, government decisions made during the disaster and the U.S. moratorium on deepwater drilling.

Former senator and commission co-chair Bob Graham said during the opening of the meeting that the probe hopes to "inform future offshore drilling efforts, the response to spills and damaged ecosystems."

William Reilly, a fellow co-chair, said the panel tried to understand how the U.S. got to the point "where the need to improvise was so great" during the spill.

He said that it is difficult "to make the case we were well prepared."

Government estimates say that about 4.9 million barrels of oil gushed out of the ruptured well.  The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

Billy Nungesser, the outspoken president of Plaquemines Parish in southern Louisiana, said the commission needs to find out "how this failed."

He told the panel, "I'm still angry."

Hundreds of miles of Louisiana coastline from Texas to Florida were closed down, devastating industries like tourism and fishing.

The commission will later hear from Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar as it investigates the use of controversial chemical dispersants to combat the spill and the U.S. moratorium on deepwater drilling.

U.S. officials declared the broken well to be finally capped earlier this month.  However, BP still faces a long uphill battle to clean up the Gulf.

BP has pledged to continue "remedying the harm that the spill caused to the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast environment and to the livelihoods of the people across the region."


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