The Obama administration’s point man on the oil spill rejected the notion of removing BP and taking over the crisis Monday, saying the government has neither the company’s expertise nor its deep-sea equipment.
“To push BP out of the way, it would raise the question, to replace them with what?” Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who is heading the federal response to the spill, said at a White House briefing.
The White House is facing increasing questions about why the government can’t assert more control over the handling of the catastrophe, which unfolded after a BP offshore drilling rig blew up April 20.
All of BP’s attempts to stop the leak have failed, despite the oil giant’s use of joystick-operated submarine robots that can operate at depths no human could withstand. Millions of gallons of brown crude are now coating birds and other wildlife and fouling the Louisiana marshes.
BP is pinning its hopes of stopping the gusher on yet another technique never tested 5,000 feet underwater: a “top kill,” in which heavy mud and cement would be shot into the blown-out well to plug it up. The top kill could begin as early as Wednesday, with BP CEO Tony Hayward giving it a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.
Allen said federal law dictated that BP had to operate the cleanup, with the government overseeing its efforts.
“They’re exhausting every technical means possible to deal with that leak,” he said. “I am satisfied with the coordination that’s going on.”