Oily Nightmare from the Depths Meets Tangled Ball of Red Tape

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BY ANDREW W. GRIFFIN, Oklahoma Watchdog — As a former Louisiana resident and one who loves the Gulf Coast, the situation involving the BP oil spill is simply maddening.

And that anger and frustration is growing.

Fox News reported today that a ship – the “A Whale” – a Taiwanese-owned, Liberian-flagged vessel billed as the world’s largest skimming vessel, according to an AP report this week out of Norfolk, Virginia, still hasn’t made it to to the Gulf to begin helping with the cleanup.

The AP report notes that “The company said it also needs a waiver of the 1920 Jones Act, which limits the activities of foreign-flagged ships in coastal U.S. waters.”

The owners of the A Whale also say that “the ship could gulp oily water at a daily rate that nearly matches the skimming total to date in the Gulf” and that the converted oil tanker has the capacity of holding 2 million barrels, but would limit its holding tanks to 1 million barrels for environmental reasons.”

So, where was this ship before? Why isn’t the U.S. government searching high and low for ships of this sort? It appears that the usual bureaucratic red tape is in the way and that as oil gushes out and ends up on those sugary white beaches of the Florida panhandle and elsewhere, paperwork awaits.