Report: BP Had No Plan, No Concern About Major Oil Spill

Today's catastrophe won't happen, BP assured government

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President Obama, on the scene in Louisiana today where oil from a massive offshore drill rig blowout is coming ashore, said "a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster" is occurring.>

Interior Sec. Ken Salazar said today that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be worse than the Exxon Valdez ship spill.>

For more than a year, British Petroleum downplayed any chance of a catastrophic oil spill occurring on the scale now threatening the shores and wetlands of four gulf coast states, The Associated Press and Gulf Restoration Network are revealing. As a result, the company had no plan in place to deal with what now is happening. AP reports:

BP’s plan filed with the federal Minerals Management Service for the Deepwater Horizon well, dated February 2009, says repeatedly that it was "unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."

BP’s oil rig blew out April 20, and is pouring oil at an estimated 210,000 gallons—some say much more—per day into Gulf of Mexico waters. According to AP:

In the 52-page exploration plan and environmental impact analysis, BP repeatedly suggested it was unlikely, or virtually impossible, for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish, mammals and fisheries.

And while the company conceded that a spill would "cause impacts" to beaches, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, it argued that "due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected."

Today, prodded  by political and environmental concerns, President Obama is flying to the gulf for a first-hand look at what the spilled oil is doing and threatens to do to the lives of residents, wildlife and habit.

From 2006–2014, Terry was managing editor for Earthjustice's blog, online monthly newsletter and print Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine.