Senators Boxer, Nelson seek videos for review of growing oil spill
May 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two U.S. senators want public release of any and all video footage showing details of oil gushing from the broken pipe and wellhead 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, where the Deepwater Horizon rig sank last month. 

A short video clip released last week quickly led some scientists to estimate the spill is much worse than thought.   As a result, Sens. Barbara Boxer ( D-CA ) and Bill Nelson ( D-FL ) asked that BP release any and all other video records in connection with Senate oversight of the BP spill.

But late Friday, a BP company lobbyist told a member of Nelson's staff the release of video footage so far "was authorized by the unified command."  The unified command overseeing the response to the spill is made up of BP and key federal agencies, including the Interior Department's Minerals and Management Service (MMS) and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Today Nelson and Boxer wrote to BP to reiterate their request that the oil company provide all video records of the Deepwater Horizon well and associated spill.  The senators also wrote to the commandant of the Coast Guard and the director of the MMS seeking release of any video records they have available.

"We believe that the public and scientific communities should have access to these materials.  Access to timely and accurate data on how much oil is being released is vital to assessing the short- and long-term impacts to the Gulf of Mexico, fisheries, the marine environment, tourism-driven economies and U.S military testing and training operations in the eastern Gulf," the lawmakers wrote. "While we are seeking the release of all video records from BP without restriction, we also ask that, to the extent that you have video records available, you provide those materials to us for use in Senate oversight activities." 

The size of the spill is of special concern to many people, the lawmakers said.  For example, the Gulf's loop current could sweep oil down to the Florida Keys and then up the east coast of the state in the Gulfstream.

On Sunday, a Mobile, Ala. newspaper reported that William Hogarth, dean of the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, said one computer model shows oil already in the Gulf's largest loop current, and another shows it dangerously close to the current that could carry it to the Keys, where one of the world's biggest coral reefs would be at risk.

Following is the text of Boxer and Nelson's letters (pdf versions are attached):

 

 

May 17, 2010

Mr. Lamar McKay

Chairman and President

BP America, Inc.

501 Westlake Park Boulevard

Houston, TX  77079

 

Dear Mr. McKay:

We're writing to reiterate our request that BP provide us with all video records of the Deepwater Horizon well and associated spill. We also believe that the public and the scientific communities should have access to these materials. 

After our initial request, BP suggested the video was released under the authorization of the Unified Command.  We have contacted the Unified Command and to date have not identified any restriction on BP's ability to release these records. 

Therefore, we're asking again that you immediately make available all video records of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead and broken pipe for the purposes of Senate oversight. 

Thank you for your cooperation with this request.

Sincerely,

 

________________________                                    _________________________         

Senator Bill Nelson                                                     Senator Barbara Boxer

 

May 17, 2010

 

Admiral Thad W. Allen

Commandant

United States Coast Guard

2100 2nd Street SW, Stop 7000

Washington, DC 20593-7000

Dear Admiral Allen:

The public release last week of a short video segment of the oil and natural gas being emitted from the Deepwater Horizon quickly led scientists to revise estimates of the size of the spill.  We are seeking to determine what additional video records of the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill have been created, and how to ensure access to these materials without delay. 

Last week we asked BP executives to produce any and all video of the wellhead and broken pipe from the Deepwater Horizon rig.  Over the weekend, BP informed us that the release of a video segment last week was "authorized by the Unified Command."

We are following up with you to ascertain whether the Unified Command has control of other video records, and to determine how to best obtain rapid access to these records. 

We believe that the public and scientific communities should have access to these materials.  Access to timely and accurate data on how much oil is being released is vital to assessing the short- and long-term impacts to the Gulf of Mexico, fisheries, the marine environment, tourism-driven economies and U.S military testing and training operations in the eastern Gulf.

While we are seeking the release of all video records from BP without restriction, we also ask that, to the extent that you have video records available, you provide those materials to us for use in Senate oversight activities. 

Sincerely,

 

________________________                                    _________________________         

Senator Bill Nelson                                                     Senator Barbara Boxer

cc: Ken Salazar, secretary, Department of Interior

 

May 17, 2010

 

S. Elizabeth Birnbaum

Director

Minerals Management Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, N. W.      

Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Ms. Birnbaum:

The public release last week of a short video segment of the oil and natural gas being emitted from the Deepwater Horizon quickly led scientists to revise estimates of the size of the spill.  We are seeking to determine what additional video records of the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill have been created, and how to ensure access to these materials without delay. 

Last week we asked BP executives to produce any and all video of the wellhead and broken pipe from the Deepwater Horizon rig.  Over the weekend, BP informed us that the release of a video segment last week was "authorized by the Unified Command."

We are following up with you to ascertain whether the Unified Command has control of other video records, and to determine how to best obtain rapid access to these records. 

We believe that the public and scientific communities should have access to these materials.  Access to timely and accurate data on how much oil is being released is vital to assessing the short- and long-term impacts to the Gulf of Mexico, fisheries, the marine environment, tourism-driven economies and U.S military testing and training operations in the eastern Gulf. 

While we are seeking the release of all video records from BP without restriction, we also ask that, to the extent that you have video records available, you provide those materials to us for use in Senate oversight activities. 

Sincerely,

 

________________________                                    _________________________         

Senator Bill Nelson                                                     Senator Barbara Boxer

cc: Ken Salazar, secretary, Department of Interior





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