NEW ORLEANS – Glaring errors and omissions in BP’s oil spill response plans have exposed a slapdash effort to follow environmental rules, outraging Gulf Coast residents who can see on their beaches how unprepared the company was.

BP PLC’s 582-page regional spill plan for the Gulf of Mexico, and its 52-page, site-specific plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig, vastly understate the dangers posed by an uncontrolled leak and vastly overstate the company’s preparedness to deal with one, according to an Associated Press analysis. The lengthy plans were approved by the federal government last year before BP drilled its ill-fated well.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was incensed Wednesday after reading the AP story and said BP has been reactive — not proactive — all along.

“Look, it’s obvious to everybody in south Louisiana that they didn’t have a plan, they didn’t have an adequate plan to deal with this spill,” Jindal said. “They didn’t anticipate the BOP (blowout preventer) failure. They didn’t anticipate this much oil hitting our coast. From the very first days, they kept telling us, ‘Don’t worry, the oil’s not going to make it to your coast.”‘

Among the glaring errors in the report: A professor is listed in BP’s 2009 response plan for a Gulf of Mexico oil spill as a national wildlife expert. He died in 2005.

The plan lists cold-water marine mammals including walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals as “sensitive biological resources.” None of those animals live anywhere near the Gulf.

Also, names and phone numbers of several Texas A&M University marine life specialists are wrong. So are the numbers for marine-mammal stranding network offices in Louisiana and Florida, which are disconnected.

“The AP report paints a picture of a company that was making it up as it went along, while telling regulators it had the full capability to deal with a major spill,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “We know that wasn’t true.”

Nelson said he and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., have asked for a criminal investigation into some of the company’s claims.

Earlier this month, the federal government announced criminal and civil investigations into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Attorney General Eric Holder has not said who might be targeted in the inquiries into the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Legal experts say that to file criminal charges, the Justice Department will have to find evidence that BP or other companies involved in the deadly oil rig explosion and subsequent spill orchestrated a cover-up, destroyed key documents or lied to government agents. Charges and civil penalties can be brought under a variety of environmental protection laws.

In its Deepwater Horizon plan, the British oil giant stated: “BP Exploration and Production Inc. has the capability to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst-case discharge, or a substantial threat of such a discharge, resulting from the activities proposed in our exploration plan.”

In the spill scenarios detailed in the documents, fish, marine mammals and birds escape serious harm; beaches remain pristine; water quality is only a temporary problem. And those are the projections for a leak about 10 times worse than what has been calculated for the current disaster.

Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, is investigating failures by the federal Minerals Management Service, which regulates oil rigs. He said Wednesday that if there had been a serious effort to reform the agency, the “mistakes” in BP’s report would have been caught.

“This is yet another example of MMS acting as a rubber stamp for industry, and industry settling for the lowest possible standard of safety at the expense of the environment and economic vitality of the Gulf region,” he said.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said the response plans will be reviewed “so that we can determine what worked well and what needs improvement.”

“Thus far we have implemented the largest spill response in history and many, many elements of it have worked well. However, we are greatly disappointed that oil has made landfall and impacted shorelines and marshes. The situation we are dealing with is clearly complex, unprecedented and will offer us much to learn from,” Beaudo said.

The plans contain wildly false assumptions about oil spills. BP’s proposed method to calculate spill volume judging by the darkness of the oil sheen is way off. The internationally accepted formula would produce estimates 100 times higher.

The Gulf’s loop current, which is projected to eventually send oil hundreds of miles around Florida’s southern tip and up the Atlantic coast, isn’t mentioned in either plan.


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