US turn down Britains offer to help clean up BP oil rig spil

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PostMon Jun 14, 2010 12:34 am » by Crawford2010


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 149576.ece

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A high-level British offer of help to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was rebuffed by America shortly after the accident, fuelling fresh fears of political tension between the two countries over the disaster.

A few days after the BP-leased rig sank on April 22, the Cabinet Office made a direct offer to the US State Department to airlift half of Britain’s 1,200-tonne stockpile of chemical dispersants, The Times has learnt.

At the time there was an urgent demand for fresh supplies. The offer to provide the chemicals, at the cost price of £3 million, was made through diplomatic channels and via the Civil Contingency Secretariat, the Government’s emergency planning unit.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which was also involved in drafting the plan, said that the US had chosen not to accept the offer. Officials said the US claimed that the chemicals held in Britain did not have the correct paperwork but the spokeswoman said: “We are not aware of any problems with licensing. I cannot say why they have not accepted the offer. That is a question for the US State Department.”

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One person familiar with the discussions said that the US decision seemed odd, given the severity of the crisis and the fact that the offer had been made in good faith. The Times understands that the rejection of Britain’s offer came after the US had accepted similar offers from other countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, sent a large batch of the chemicals to the Gulf shortly after the accident.

News of the rejection of Britain’s offer of help comes amid rising criticism of BP and increasing anti-British rhetoric among some American politicians and media. One prominent US blogger on the spill, Roy Eisner, even proposed a nuclear attack on Britain.

Senior British and US officials were trying to play down fears yesterday of an anti-British backlash. Louis Susman, the US Ambassador to London, told the BBC that criticism of BP’s response to the oil spill was not a diplomatic issue. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said that relations between the US and Britain were excellent.

BP says that 4,500 tonnes of dispersants have been used so far, about 80 tonnes a day. Virtually all of these chemicals are now being produced in Texas by a company called Nalco, reducing the need for imports.

British stocks of dispersant are kept in 11 different locations around the UK and are overseen by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. A large part of the stockpile is stored at Coventry airport, where specially equipped DC6 aircraft are kept on standby for an oil spill in British waters. Additional supplies are held in Aberdeen and Southampton.

The US State Department did not return calls seeking comment

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/w ... 149576.ece

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