Coast Guard Unprepared for Spill, Internal Report Says

An internal review has revealed that the U.S. Coast Guard’s performance during the BP oil spill cleanup last year was hampered by “significant planning failures.” According to a New York Times article by Campbell Robertson and John Collins Rudolf, several reports — which were in fact commissioned by the Coast Guard — detailed how the agency’s environmental crises preparedness had “atrophied over the past decade.” The reports said the lack of preparedness was the result of the Coast Guard’s expanded security responsibilities in the post-9/11 world.

The review, which was completed in January, was made public by the Coast Guard in March. These so-called preparedness reviews identified areas for improvement after finding that both the government and private sector “demonstrated a serious deficiency in planning and preparedness for an uncontrolled release of oil from an offshore drilling operation.”

In fact, Coast Guard staff members interviewed by the review panel revealed that they were unfamiliar with oil spill response plans. The review also detailed the absence of local and state officials from the pre-spill planning process, leading to high-profile disagreements and ill-advised response strategies during the spill.

“We clearly point out that the contingency planning was not adequate, certainly not for a spill of this size,” said Roger Rufe, a retired Coast Guard vice admiral and the chairman of the team that produced the review, as quoted by The New York Times. “There was a complacency that this was not going to happen at this scale.”

The bottom line? Capt. Ron LaBrec, a Coast Guard spokesman, said the Coast Guard quickly began making improvements after reviewing the recommendations. The Department of Homeland Security has requested an additional $11.5 million in its 2012 budget to enable the Coast Guard to better respond to major spills, according to The New York Times report.

For more information on the results of the Coast Guard’s internal review, read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/09/us/09spill.html?_r=1