Scientists Claim BP Hid Oil Info to Obscure Scope of Gulf Spill -- What Should the Obama Administration Do?

Upset about the ecological damage in the Gulf of Mexico, some scientists now say that BP withheld access to the site of the spill to obscure the extent of the problem.

While BP has finally had some success in collecting oil from an insertion tube, heavy oil has begun to spread to Louisiana's marshes, the state's governor said Wednesday.

"The heavy oil is here," Gov. Bobby Jindal said. "This was the day everybody was worried about."

For weeks, researchers have been asking to measure the rate of the flow of oil at the bottom of the gulf, but BP has denied those requests, suggesting that the measuring equipment would pose a risk to their efforts to stop the oil flow.

Now some scientists are speaking out, accusing BP of trying to hide information from the public and criticizing the government for not pushing hard enough.

"They want to hide the body," oceanographer Ian MacDonald of Florida State University told The New York Times.

Of particular worry to the scientists are huge plumes of oil droplets that could be moving through the gulf. Neither the government nor BP acknowledged the risk of such plumes until weeks after the disaster, in response to prodding from researchers.

Marine biologist Rick Steiner told The New York Times that both BP and the government should have anticipated the plumes, which often occur in deep-water drilling accidents.

"A vast ecosystem is being exposed to contaminants right now, and nobody's watching it," Steiner told the Times. "That seems to me like a catastrophic failure on the part of NOAA," the federal agency that monitors oceans.

So, our question to you today: With scientists accusing BP of obscuring the facts about the oil spill, what should the Obama administration do?

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