GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Congressman Gene Taylor and Senator Roger Wicker flew over the barrier islands Saturday morning. At a news conference afterwards, Congressman Taylor lashed out at the response from BP and federal government. He said skimmers in Mississippi Sound do little more than wasting time and money because he says they don't have VHF radios or GPS devices.
"There's no way to communicate with them," said Rep. Taylor. "They had all these boats running around like headless chickens. None of them are skimming for oil. It's criminal. Between the amount of money and the wasted effort, it's absolutely criminal. There shouldn't be a drop of oil in the Mississippi Sound. But because of this incompetence, it's in the sound."
Rep. Taylor says of the few skimmers there are in the Sound, most aren't pulling booms from both ends which he says makes cleanup futile.
He said, "That's absolutely insane. I gave them [BP and National Incident Commander Thad Allen] a detailed plan of exactly what to do two weeks ago. Walked them through exactly what they ought to be doing. They're not doing it. I'm absolutely furious and if the president of the United States can't find anybody who can do this job, let me do it."
Taylor is critical of the chain of command set up under Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.
"If they were properly led, if they were told where to go, but none of these things are happening. You will see a boat over there just ridding and 20 yards away there's a big blotch of oil. Nobody's doing anything about it," said Rep. Taylor.
"They spot some oil. They've got to report it back to Mobile. That's obscene. That's stupid. They're spending billions of dollars. and they're not getting the job done. It's insane."
Of Adm. Allen, Rep. Taylor said, "If he doesn't get off his butt and fix this then,'yes, he ought to be replaced. "
Senator Roger Wicker was also on the flight. He says the Congressional Delegation along the Gulf Coast is becoming increasingly frustrated by the Obama Administration because there aren't enough skimmers to go around. Senator Wicker says other parts of the country and other nations have offered to help but in many cases, the Secretary of the Interior hasn't returned their phone calls.
"Our attitude should be come one, come all," Sen. Wicker said. "Let's coordinate it together. Let's get the skimmers operating correctly. It seemed to me that we have a skimming process that we saw today on a very limited scale that there's no way it could possibly work."
People on the flight over the Sound told WLOX they saw oil sheen and globs and there was oil in all the passes.
Ocean Spring mayor Connie Moran is calling the oil cleanup effort shameful. During a boat trip on Saturday, Moran says she saw orange emulsified oil north of Horn Island. The ribbon was five miles long and 10 feet wide. She said there was one skimmer around and it was not working. Mayor Moran says she contacted the Unified Command but she says the people she talked to seemed to have no sense of urgency about cleaning up.
The mayor said "Where are the hundreds of vessels of opportunity supposed to be coming in right now? It [the oil] is in Mississippi waters and there's no boats to be seen. It's absolutely outrageous. Obviously nothing is being coordinated. It's an absolute shame that they're not responding. "
Mayor Moran says on its current track the oil is headed right toward Belfontaine beach. Moran say she applaud governor for obtaining skimming vessels for Mississippi because it's time to take matters into our own hands.
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