More than a month after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sunk, triggering a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration dispatched top officials to the region and scolded BP for failing to contain the damage.
“I am angry and I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this well from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “We are 33 days into this effort, and deadline after deadline has been missed.”
In his most strongly worded statement to date, Salazar said of BP that “if we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way, appropriately.”
Salazar, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, and Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson were dispatched to Louisiana to examine the spill, consider new remedies, and listen to the concerns of frustrated residents.
The tough official response comes as local anger mounts about the failure to contain the spill. BP admitted on the weekend that its effort to siphon away leaking oil using a mile-long tube is working less effectively.
As of the weekend, over 65 miles of Louisiana coastline was awash in oil. Endangered brown pelicans are turning up with their feathers coated, unable to fly. By most conservative estimates, at least 6 million gallons of crude have spewed into the Gulf, though some scientists believe the spill is has already surpassed the 11 million gallon Exxon Valdez spill as the worst in U.S. history.
Photo: A BP cleanup crew working Sunday to remove oil in Port Fourchon, La. (John Moore/Getty Images)