Retired US Admiral Thad Allen, who for months led the Coast Guard's ostensible clean up and plugging operation of the Macondo well returns to the limelight tomorrow. At 8:30 a.m. in New Orleans he'll open the Gulf of Mexico: Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference.
His comments will be interesting in light of the revelation that BP purposely mischaracterized the flow rate (to the tune of underplaying by about 35,000 barrels/day), that criminal activity had occurred and which led to the event, and that the US may have been complicit in barring media (including photographers) from the sight of dead dolphins and marine life.
During a conference this Examiner spoke at in Jan. 2011, reporters were sharply critical of Allen, who took over after apparently BP was pushed aside. The recurring criticism was that he was ill-equipped to be the voice of the spill, that he didn't know as much as the BP scientists.
Allen retired as National Incident Commander in late Sept., 2010, and then Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft took over. Apparently, having sealed the well successfully, Allen, who'd come out of retirement to pilot this "cleanup", was ready to relax again.
He had in the months following the Apr. 20, 2010 blowout and tragic loss of 11 rig workers spoken on Capitol Hill about the response. He had also fielded innumerable journalists' questions, including from this reporter, in near-daily briefings.
Now, as he comes back into the spotlight and journalists scramble for time with him, important questions must be asked, such as this reporter did: should events such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster cause the US to rethink its offshore drilling agenda? And what about the use of Corexit, which not only proved deadly and otherwise highly toxic for fish but also a human poison? Allen defended that publicly.
The three-day conference kicking off tomorrow will include many scientific sessions including one moderated by Dr. Mandy Joye, who will chair a session on Hydrocarbon distributions, cycling, and impacts in blue water benthic and pelagic environments. Five plenary sessions by notable scientists will also be featured, such as by Dr. Maureen Lichtvield, who, like Joye, has been featured here in the Examiner.
Readers are invited to attend a public forum at this event, held at the Marriott at 555 Canal St., Tuesday evening. Acccording to organizers, the "purpose of the forum is to provide the general public with a broader understanding of the current status of the Gulf of Mexico and prospects for recovery in relation to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill."
Registration (separate from the conference, but free) is required. More information is available here.
To read the Testimony of Commission Co-Chairs Sen. Bob Graham and William Reilly before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources before the U.S. Senate on Jan. 26, 2011, please click here.
Bold marks are those of the Examiner's.
Correction: Allen is now an executive with the Booz Allen Hamilton engineering firm.