The Maine oil booms: Yes, they’re blowing smoke

June 17, 2010

Earlier in the saga of the Packgen oil-containment booms that apparently neither BP nor the Federal government wants, ostensibly because of quality issues, I had asked the following question:

Or are Washington and BP blowing smoke to cover for an initial and inexcusable lackadaisical response to the biggest environmental catastrophe in US history?

Silly me. I should have realized this was a rhetorical question; of course they’re just lying to cover up their bumbling:

Engineering Professor Gives Maine Boom Thumbs Up

“I have never directly looked at boom before,” says Ian T. Durham of the Department of Physics and Cooperative Engineering at Saint Anselm College.

That said, Durham says, analyzing boom “is a fairly standard, pretty simple mechanical engineering problem.”

Durham was recently hired by Packgen — the Maine packaging company that manufactured roughly 80,000 feet of boom that the US Coast Guard says failed an initial BP quality control test. Packgen president John Lapoint III has expressed frustration at BP/Coast Guard bureaucracy, insisting that the boom he’s making will work well in the Gulf, where boom is desperately needed.

Durham would not say how much he was paid, but he says he’s generally paid $100 an hour for consulting, and his analysis of Packgen boom took rougly 40-45 hours.

You can read Durham’s report HERE.

He says Packgen’s boom is superior to other boom. Its woven polypropelene is “practically indestructible,” he says. “Packgen uses it to make toxic waste disposal containers.”

Using woven polypropelene means the Packgen boom isn’t “going to twist like the vinyl” boom. “And it’s easier to deploy. It’s nice and stiff and it floats really nicely.”

As far as the professor is concerned, the boom meets or exceeds accepted ASTM standards. So, I ask again: aside from  connector problem that was easily rectified by Packgen, what is BP and the Coast Guard’s problem with Packgen’s product? If it’s even 50% effective, isn’t that better than nothing? Why hasn’t the whole supply been bought and shipped to the Gulf via military airlift?

It seems now that the answer is clear: the administration and BP screwed up by not acting on Packgen’s initial offers, which were conveyed through Maine’s two senators, and are now covering their rears by making up excuses that don’t stand up to the mildest challenge. Rather than admit they were slow off the mark and fixing the problem, the Lightworker administration waves its hands and tries to distract the audience like a cheap stage magician in Vegas whose tricks the crowd can see right through.

Pathetic.

(via Hot Air)


The Maine oil-booms: CYA in action?

June 14, 2010

A few days ago, we covered the stunning revelation that the Coast Guard admiral in charge of dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill seemed never to have heard of the miles of containment boom sitting unused in Maine. ABC’s Jake Tapper broke that story and followed up with the Coast Guard, who told him the boom hadn’t met quality standards.

Eh… Not so fast. Tapper, again:

Over the weekend, Capt. Ron LaBrec from Coast Guard Public Affairs told me that according to a BP quality control inspector the PackGen boom did not pass an initial quality control test.

“Boom is subjected to great wear and tear when placed in the water and must be frequently tended,” LaBrec told me. “In order to retain its effectiveness boom must be of high quality. Once Packgen’s boom passes inspection, the company can be considered as a source for supplying boom.”

LaBrec noted that in the meantime, “suitable boom is being identified and obtained quickly” with 459,000 feet of boom stored in the region in addition to the 2.24 million feet deployed.

So what was wrong with the PackGen boom?

“There were concerns with material and end connectors,” LaBrec said. “BP has inspectors who visit facilities and regularly test boom. In addition to testing boom from new suppliers, boom from existing manufacturers is also tested/inspected. The Coast Guard also inspects boom that we purchase from suppliers. It is important because poorly designed boom may not work as intended.”

[Packgen President] Lapoint said the boom “not only meets” standards, “it exceeds it.”

“The only issue was the end connectors,” Lapoint said. So, he said, “we changed it to the universal connector, so there shouldn’t be any problems at all.”

Packgen further claims their boom exceeds standards by a factor of two, while Tapper quotes the relevant ASTM standards.

So, I ask again: What’s the hold up? Are the Coast Guard and BP using some standard other than ASTM (which would be odd)? If the switch to a universal connector was the only problem, why aren’t these booms on the way to the Gulf? Are there any other problems not mentioned?

Or are Washington and BP blowing smoke to cover for an initial and inexcusable lackadaisical response to the biggest environmental catastrophe in US history?

I don’t suspect we’ve heard the last of the Maine boom, by any means.

(via Jimmiebjr on Twitter)


Opening the gates to our enemies?

March 18, 2010

The US Coast Guard is not only our primary resources for seaborne search and rescue, they’re also a key to the defense of our ports from terrorist attack.

So why is the Obama Administration planning to gut the Coast Guard?

Liberals are forever going on about “first responders.” Well, the Coast Guard should certainly be considered first among the first responders. Yet, the Coast Guard has come on hard times. The Post recently reported that of 12 major cutters assigned to Haitian relief earlier this year, ten of them broke down. Three were forced to limp back into port.

The Obama administration plans to cut 1,100 active duty personnel from the Coast Guard, the smallest of our military services. Funds for port security—our first line of defense—will be cut by $100 million.

Even Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) calls the cuts in the Coast Guard’s budget “penny-wise and pound foolish.”

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. Because of the administration’s cuts to the Coast Guard budget, their cutters will not be able to keep pace with the Navy in important combined missions. The average age of a Navy warship is 14 years, while that of a Coast Guard vessel is 41 years. New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans will now be less secure, Rogers charged.

The incoming Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Robert Papp, has said he would have to consider cutting homeland security training and operations. This is tantamount to announcing to the terrorists “the coast is clear.”

The Administration is willing to sink trillions into a health care “reform” that a majority of the nation does not want, yet a crucial component of our defense against Islamic jihadists, who have already shown themselves quite willing to kill thousands, is left begging. The single most important duty of the federal government is short-changed, so our leaders can pursue Hope and Change. Even that old fool Robert Byrd sees the folly in this.

And the Obama administration could well get a lot of Americans killed because of it.