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Before the Gulf Oil Spill, U.S. Training Exercises Revealed Preparation Gaps

The United States government has tested its response to oil spills four times since 2002 and found some of the same major problems that have slowed down the response to the ongoing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the Center for Public Integrity reports.

The government ran drills in 2002, 2004, 2007 and in March 2010. Those exercises found three major issues with the way massive oil spills are handled. The first problem was poor communication between government agencies. One of the primary solutions to this problem was supposed to be the naming of a National Incident Commander, yet 11 days passed before President Barack Obama named a commander for the Gulf spill.

Federal officials point the finger at BP, saying it took days before the oil company told the government that the leak was as spewing as many as 5,000 barrels a day. Government reports following the tests forewarned that information from industry would be hard to obtain after a spill.

A simulation of a leaking well on the floor of the Gulf found that the technology and expertise for cleaning up after a spill has not advanced in decades.

After the 2002 drill, a report recommended that the government mandate oil companies invest in cleanup technology. The recommendation was not followed, and responders are coming up with new ways to cap the leak as they go along.

Related:
Gulf Oil Spill: Obama Vows Tougher Oversight, Feds OK’d Drilling Without Permits, Size of Slick Questioned
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