Natives found at 74 deg N, 10 deg E -- a long way from the Gulf of Mexico. (photo: LindsayRs via Flickr)

In its emergency plans in the event of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP made clear it knows how to save “seals, sea otters, and walruses” in the Gulf waters. The only problem is, no such animals live in the Gulf.

Indeed, it appears BP literally copied and pasted emergency response plans to apply to any spill in the world, regardless of the reality of the local ecosystems. While “seals, sea otters, and walruses” are a concern for oil spills in colder waters, there are none of those animals in the Gulf.

Homeland Security Wire noticed the errors after a report from USA Today highlighted other aspects of BP’s total lack of preparation in the event of a disaster as catastrophic as that in the Gulf.

BP’s 582-page emergency-response never anticipated an oil spill as large as the one now gushing on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico; a closer reading shows the document was not much than a boilerplate, cut-and-paste job used by BP from region to region; in a section titled “Sensitive Biological & Human-Use Resources,” the emergency plan lists “seals, sea otters and walruses” as animals that could be impacted by a Gulf of Mexico spill — even though no such animals live in the Gulf; the plan was approved in July by the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS), a toothless agency accused by lawmakers of being in the pocket of the oil industry.

As HSW notes, as reckless and unprepared as BP was to copy and paste emergency response notes without a real plan for how to tackle a massive oil spill in the Gulf, the real problem rests with the complete failure of regulators to not only notice this problem, but act on it.

Any reasonable person whose job is to ensure the safety of offshore drilling – as is the task of MMS – should know that “seals, sea otters and walruses” do not live in the Gulf of Mexico. That alone should have been a red flag to inspect every word of BP’s supposed readiness plans, if not put a halt to offshore drilling operations until MMS was 100% satisfied with the readiness of industry to go after a spill.

Instead, MMS winked and nodded to BP and the rest of the industry, and pretended walruses bask on the shores of Florida. MMS went right on ahead and issues 27 approval for offshore drilling in the two weeks after the disaster.

It should be no surprise no one has any idea how to stop the disaster in the Gulf, if these are the jokers who were supposed to be ready.


Michael Whitney

Michael Whitney

My name is Michael Whitney. I'm a progressive online organizer working with FDL Action. Rush Limbaugh called me "clueless" once. He went into rehab two days later.