Feds were told about Maine oil boom supply May 21

While the Gulf coast reels from the oily effects of the worst environmental disaster in the nation’s history, Packgen, a Maine company, has “miles” of oil containment boom languishing in its warehouse:

John Lapoint of Packgen in Auburn, Maine, says he’s got plenty of floating oil containment boom and can make lots more on short notice. There’s just one problem: no one will buy it from him.He’s already had a representative from BP visit his factory and inspect his product. The governor of Maine, John Baldacci, visited the facility and made a video plea to no one in particular to close the deal. Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins wrote a letter on May 21 to the secretary of the Interior, the administrator of NOAA, and the commandant of the Coast Guard to alert them to the existence of Packgen, their supply of boom, and their demonstrated capacity to make more.

This is significant because Cost Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who is in charge of the federal effort to manage the crisis, indicated to ABC News’ Jake Tapper as recently as June 11 that he was unaware of Packgen and its ample stock of oil boom:

TAPPER: I talked to a guy who runs a company in Maine that offers boom, and he has – he says – the ability to make 90,000 feet of boom a day. High quality. BP came there 2 weeks ago, looked at it, they are doing another audit today. He is very frustrated, he says he has a lot of high quality boom to go and it is taking a long time for BP to get its act together. Don’t you need this boom right now?

ALLEN: Oh we need all the boom wherever we can get it. If you give me the information off camera I’ll be glad to follow up.

We realize that the admiral is a very busy man, but we wonder if he or his aides bother to read his mail. The information about Packgen, its product, suppliers and willingness to dispatch it to help contain the oil in the Gulf is contained in a letter dated May 21 and signed by U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. It is addressed to the admiral and copies the governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Floria.

Why does the Obama Administration continue to sit back after having put BP in the driver’s seat to control the oil containment efforts in the Gulf? As the coastal area and its wildlife are under under assault from a disaster that began nearly two months ago, American companies and American workers are begging BP and the government to let them help do the job. But their pleas and even the urging of two U.S. Senators seems to have fallen on deaf ears. This goes beyond incompetence into the area of criminal negligence by both BP and the federal government.

- JP

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