Last year the federal government approved a 582-page, regional spill plan for the Gulf of Mexico. Sounds comprehensive, right? It turns out the plan was filled with glaring errors, blatant omissions and wildly false assumptions -- and won approval from the government anyway. BP's response plan included references to wildlife like walruses, sea lions and seals, none of which live in the Gulf, indicating parts of the plan may have been lifted from a site plan for Alaska. It contains spill scenarios in which beaches remain prisitine, fish, marine mammals and birds are spared and water quality is just a passing concern -- and those are projections for a spill ten times worse than calculations for the the current disaster. The plan lists Professor Peter Lutz as a national wildlife expert to contact in the event of a spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but he died in 2005. It contains the names and telephone number of marine life specialists at Texas A&M University, but the names and numbers are wrong. It lists the numbers for offices of the marine mammal stranding network in Louisiana and Florida, but they are no longer in service. The plan underestimates the dangers posed by an uncontrolled underwater blowout, and overstates BP's ability to deal with one. Two senators -- Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat and Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat -- are seeking a criminal investigation into the company's claims of preparedness to deal with such a catastrophe.
By Anne Landman on June 11, 2010