When There is a Disaster, Why Dismiss Offers to Help?

It’s Day 50 of the Gulf Oil Spill crisis.  Americans are angry.  We’re angry with British Petroleum’s (BP) handling of the situation and we’re frustrated with President Obama’s inability to force a solution.  No one seems to know what they are doing. 

James Cameron is an award winning filmmaker who has decades of experience with deep ocean technology. In addition to Avatar and Titanic, he’s also filmed two documentaries about the Titanic.  He’s offered help to BP and has been turned down. Despite that rejection, Cameron has assembled a team of experts, formed a working group and together they have completed a comprehensive report. 

Like so many of us, Cameron was motivated by frustration watching the growing devastation over the past four weeks of this disaster with seemingly no solution in sight.  Unlike most of us, Cameron has resources and connections.  He decided to call upon the experts and asked them to come together for a brainstorming session. The meeting took place recently at the Washington, DC headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency and included 23 experts from around the world that Cameron gathered. This report of recommendations and will be submitted to the EPA and the Department of Energy this week.

The problem is much more complex than many think.  It isn’t merely a plumbing issue.  Cameron is right to call for transparency when it comes to how BP is handling the Gulf Oil Spill.  The government does not have independent capability right now and is relying on the oil company for all of its imaging and information.  Of course the oil company has its own interests to protect, so we have to be skeptical of whether or not we’re seeing the entire reality of the crisis.

In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show June 7, Cameron asked an important question.  He asked, “Does the government want to rely on BP or another oil company for all of its intel coming out of the site or do they want their own independent capability to go in and see what’s happening?  We have that ability.  We have submergibles.  We have ROVs.  We have all kinds of vehicles that can get down there and we have experienced operators.  Why doesn’t the government have that kind of capability independent of relying on the oil company?”

A June 2 Washington Post article by Garance Franke-Ruta quotes Cameron as saying, “Because if you’re not monitoring it independently, you’re asking the perpetrator to give you the video of the crime scene.”

If BP has so kindly rejected Cameron’s offer, the government should seriously consider it as well as the questions he’s raised regarding the need for our government to survey the site and do its own investigation.  Critical thinkers are left with many questions.  Why not accept Cameron’s offer of assistance with his private team of deep-sea experts? When the disaster is this horrific, how can anyone reject such an offer?

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