BP's emergency response plan to an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Representative Edward J. Markey said today, is missing another key element: How to deal with a hurricane or a tropical storm.
The words "hurricane" and "tropical storm" do not even appear in the 582-page plan. Such an omission is further proof of how lackadaisical the company was in its plans, said the Malden Democrat, as oil from a BP-leased well gushes into the gulf for a 72nd day and Hurricane Alex complicates cleanup efforts on the coast.
“The BP plan had walruses in the gulf, but no hurricanes,” said Markey, who has been one of BP's most consistent and vociferous critics. “Walruses haven't been in the gulf in a few million years, while a hurricane is just a few hundred miles from the spill site right now.''
Markey, as chairman of the Energy and Environment subcommittee, belittled response plans by BP and other major oil companies during a hearing last month. He pointed out that the companies' plans were 90 percent identical, provided methods to protect walruses, and included the phone number of a sea turtle expert who has been dead for five years.
"It's unfortunate that walruses were included," Rex W. Tillerson, chief executive of ExxonMobil, responded then. "And it's an embarrassment that they were included."
Markey has sent a letter today to Lamar McKay, chief executive of BP America, asking him to fully explain the firm's storm contingency plans.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.