Is the Jones Act slowing Gulf Spill clean-up efforts?


June 29, 2010

EPA, not Jones Act, blocking use of foreign skimmers

EPA rules. rather than the Jones Act, appear to be a major reason why more foreign skimming vessels are not at work in response to the Gulf oil spill.

Anti Jones Act activists, including Senator John McCain, have pointed to skimmers being offered for the clean-up effort by the Netherlands and rejected "because of the Jones Act."

That is not, in fact, the case.

According to a report in Canada's Financial Post:

"Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway. 'Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour,' Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, giving each Dutch ship more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill."

"The U.S. government responded with 'Thanks but no thanks,' remarked Visser, despite BP's desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer --the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment --unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts."

"Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico."

Read more HERE

Now the same sort of hurdle seems to be facing Taiwan's Nobu Su of TMT Group. TMT has brought in a 319,869 dwt ore/ oil carrier. the A Whale, which has been converted into a gigantic skimmer.

According to the Virginia Daily Press:

"The A Whale ... is designed to work 20 to 50 miles offshore where smaller skimmers have trouble navigating. The ship would take in oily water and transfer it into specialized storage tanks on the flanks of the vessel. From there, the oil-fouled seawater would be pumped into internal tanks where the oil would separate naturally from the water.

"After the separation process, the oil would be transferred to other tankers or shore-based facilities while the remaining water would be pumped back into the gulf.

"Because the process wouldn't remove all traces of oil from the seawater, TMT will likely have to gain a special permit from the EPA, said Scott H. Segal of the Washington lobbying firm, Bracewell &Giuliani, which TMT has retained to help negotiate with federal regulators."

Read that story HERE

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