US Searches for Oil Cleanup Aid Abroad, Two Notices Sent Worldwide Since Spill Began

By Alex Pepper

Jun 15, 2010 5:28pm

Kirit Radia reports: Twice since the BP oil spill began in late April the United States has sent notices out from all of its embassies worldwide asking countries if they have certain types of boom, a State Department official tells ABC News. The US also recently began seeking high-speed, high-capacity off-shore skimmers overseas, the official said. On May 13 the first notice went out from the embassies asking countries (and companies) if they had ocean boom. Again on June 10 the US asked if countries have 18-24 inch containment boom and fireboom. The State Department says it has received some responses and they’re sending those on to the Unified Area Command, who will ultimately decide what is needed. Today the department said it had been told by the International Maritime Organization that it had located boom in 10 countries, including Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Kenya, Norway, Spain, and Tunisia. The first notice was sent just days after the US first said it did not need any assistance from other countries in containing the spill, which had not yet reached shore. “While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future,” the State Department said in a statement on May 5. This week the State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss conversations with other countries, stressed that the notices were not requests for aid (the US has yet to make any such requests from other countries) but rather the responses are being used to help the US create an inventory of materials abroad that could be procured to help to contain and cleanup the oil spill. Within days of the spill, unsolicited a dozen countries and international organizations offered assistance to the US. That later expanded to 17 countries, and today the State Department announced that an 18th country, Qatar, has offered containment boom. Of those countries, the US has accepted aid so far from four nations: Mexico, Canada, Norway, and the Netherlands. The Mexican offer of two skimmers and 13,780 feet of boom and Norway’s offer of eight skimming systems were accepted in early May, according to the State Department. The Dutch offer of three sets of Koseq Rigid Sweeping Arms was accepted on May 23 and Canada’s offer of 9,843 feet of containment boom was accepted on June 4, the department said in a statement yesterday. Asked why the US has not accepted more international offers of assistance, the State Department has said that the size and distance of those items plays a role, but also whether any cost is associated. “For the most part, they are offers to sell supplies. And in determining whether to accept these offers, we look at the availability of domestic sources and also, you know, compare pricing on the open market,” State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters. “So that's maybe one of the reasons why in some cases, we've been able to accept these offers and pursued them,” he added. “We continue to identify, you know, sources of important equipment that will be needed for this — to handle this over the long term.” According to a State Department official the 18 countries and four organizations that have offered assistance thus far are: Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, UAE, UK, Vietnam, the European Maritime Safety Agency, the European Commission’s Monitoring and Information Center, the International Maritime Organization, the Environment Unit of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Environment Program. -Kirit Radia

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