Federal officials have grown increasingly frustrated with BP’s failure to stop a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, amid revelations that the company may have covered up the size of the leak and suggestions that the government assume control of the cleanup.
As BP prepared what it called a “top kill” procedure, in which chemicals are poured into the blown-out well bore to stop the leak, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said flatly that he did not have faith in the company’s ability to contain the spill, according to CNN.
“I have no question that BP is throwing everything at the problem,” Salazar said. “Do I have confidence that they know exactly what they’re doing? No.”
As the oil began to spread out across Louisiana’s fragile marshlands last week, BP executives admitted for the first time that their official estimate of the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf may have been low. The company had originally said that about 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day were leaking out into the waters along the Louisiana coastline.
The admission has shaken the federal government’s faith in BP, even as officials acknowledge the company is best positioned to stop the leak. Members of Congress have begun to suggest that the federal government declare an emergency in the area and coordinate the response. As Rep. Edward Markey told CBS: “If the Defense Department or NASA or CIA have technologies that can help, they should use them right now.”
Even Salazar acknowledged on Sunday the possibility that the government might step in and take over.
“If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately,” Salazar said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.