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Effort to Clean Up Gulf Spill Seriously Thwarted by Safety Patrol

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By Doug Powers  •  June 17, 2010 09:23 PM

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

This is unbelievable, in a governmentally believable kind of way. We have a serious emergency in the Gulf requiring the help of every available resource, and yet the government entities in charge just can’t put down their rules, regs & safety manuals as if they’re on harbor patrol during spring break:

Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state’s oil-soaked waters. Today, against the governor’s wishes, those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.

Louisiana Governor Jindal frustrated over decision-making red tape. “It’s the most frustrating thing,” the Republican governor said today in Buras, La. “Literally, yesterday morning we found out that they were halting all of these barges.”

Sixteen barges sat stationary today, although they were sucking up thousands of gallons of BP’s oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.

“These barges work. You’ve seen them work. You’ve seen them suck oil out of the water,” said Jindal.

Why were the oil-sucking barges that were having a positive effect idled? Because… oh, just read it and weep:

But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.

What? No checking to make sure the barge workers were applying the proper SPF sunscreen and wearing hardhats? Plus, the barges might be smuggling in some Dutch skimmers that haven’t yet received EPA approval — you can’t be too careful when you’re dealing with a disaster where every minute counts!

The frustrating thing about almost any government response to an emergency is that it’s hard to tell if their incompetence is deliberate or intentional — they’re so good at both.

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

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