Markey blasts BP for lack of storm plans

Globe Staff / July 1, 2010

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Representative Edward J. Markey lambasted BP again yesterday for lapses in its official plans to clean up an oil spill, saying it had no provisions to deal with a hurricane even though such storms frequently pummel the Gulf of Mexico.

The words “hurricane’’ and “tropical storm’’ do not appear in the 582-page plan for the gulf. Such an omission, the Malden Democrat said, is further proof of how lackadaisical the company was before a blast on the Deepwater Horizons rig killed 11 workers and spawned the worst oil disaster in the nation’s history. As oil from the BP-leased rig gushed into the gulf for a 72d day yesterday, Hurricane Alex threatened to complicate cleanup efforts on the coast.

“The BP plan had walruses in the gulf, but no hurricanes,’’ said Markey, who has been one of BP’s most consistent and vociferous critics. “Walruses haven’t been in the gulf in a few million years, while a hurricane is just a few hundred miles from the spill site right now.’’

Markey, as chairman of the Energy and Environment subcommittee, belittled response plans by BP and other major oil companies during a hearing last month. He pointed out that the companies’ plans were 90 percent identical, provided methods to protect walruses, and included the phone number of an expert on sea turtles who has been dead for five years.

“It’s unfortunate that walruses were included,’’ Rex W. Tillerson, chief executive of Exxon Mobil, responded then. “And it’s an embarrassment that they were included.’’

Markey sent a letter yesterday to Lamar McKay, chief executive of BP America, asking him to fully explain the firm’s storm contingency plans. He specifically requested details on such items as how any evacuation of the relief wells would set back their progress and how a storm would change the focus of cleanup efforts.