US seeks foreign help for oil spill equipment

AFP, June 1st 2010.

The US government lacks key equipment it needs to battle the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and is seeking international help, the US Coast Guard said on Tuesday.

Coast Guard official Thad Allen, who is in charge of the government’s efforts, told reporters that skimmers to help siphon the oil off the surface of the water are most needed now.

“We are looking at offers of foreign assistance, we are actually reaching out to foreign governments,” Allen said.

“Some of the equipment that is most valuable to us right now is skimming equipment. There are different types of skimmers. Some of the inventories are present in other countries,” he said.

“We’re actually reaching out to folks like the Netherlands, Canada and Mexico as sources of supply for that.”

Allen added that Canada has already provided “aviation assets” to help with the nation’s worst ever oil spill, which began April 20 with the explosion of a BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig.

Resources to help skim or burn oil off the surface of the water are important because hurricane season has begun amid projections that efforts to contain the gushing oil could take another two months, he said.

“And so we’re looking at every source of supply for a skimming type of equipment and that’s the type of equipment that we’ll be bringing in.”

President Barack Obama last week admitted to a shortage of protective boom to shield Gulf coastlines from the massive oil slick and said the government was working out how to make more.

Long lines of booms have been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico during the clean-up effort in a bid to keep oil slicks from reaching land, but it has not been a fail-safe plan, as bad weather for example can push oil over the top of the barriers.

Original Article