Jul 2, 2010 6:03 AM by Chris Welty
The Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency shored
up their oversight of BP's work to clean up the oil-soaked Gulf
Coast on Thursday, setting new standards for how the company and
its contractors should test and track the garbage generated by the
BP PLC has hired private contractors to haul away thousands of
tons of polluted sand, crude-coated boom and other refuse washing
ashore from the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
So far the disaster has generated more than 3,913 tons of solid
waste, which is being hauled to landfills in Alabama, Louisiana,
Mississippi and Florida.
Companies brought on to dispose of the material say the debris
is being handled professionally and carefully, but a spot check by
The Associated Press last week found clean-up procedures along the
Gulf coast's northern reaches were haphazard at best.
In Alabama's Gulf State Park, a mound of oily sand was spotted
in an uncovered waste container flanked by a pooling brown puddle,
while in Orange Beach, a leaky truck piled with tar balls and
oil-smeared protective gear left a pollution trail of its own.
A senior EPA official said Thursday no specific concerns
prompted the directive but that it would make existing waste
disposal plans federally enforceable.
"We felt that this is a unique and catastrophic event and we
felt it should have the highest level of oversight and
accountability," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of
the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "This is
part of our ongoing process to hold BP accountable."
Specific guidelines were outlined in letters sent to BP for how
the refuse should be managed. The letters also mandated more public
outreach to communities near the staging areas or landfills,
BP America spokesman Daren Beaudo said the company had not yet
received the directive, so could not immediately comment.
Since May, BP has been testing samples of the oil, mousse and
tar patties collecting along the shoreline for volatile organic
compounds, metals, diesel and other chemicals. The EPA will start
taking its own independent samples of the debris this week in the
marshes and tidal flats and will ramp up inspections, Stanislaus
"We've been fingerprinting that oil all along, but if we have
more people taking additional samples that is great," said Rodney
Mallett, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Environmental
Quality, which is monitoring waste disposal in landfills throughout
Waste Management Inc., the nation's largest trash hauler, was
hired by BP to dispose of the mess washing ashore in Alabama,
Mississippi and Florida.
Spokesman Ken Haldin did not immediately comment on the new
guidelines, but said in response to The AP's findings last week
that the company would be more careful and have drivers check bins
for problems and possibly use a new type of liner.