Admiral clarifies tough talk as 'metaphor'

May 24, 2010 at 11:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) -- Tough talk of the U.S. government pushing aside BP to deal with the Gulf of Mexico oil leak disaster is a "metaphor," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had said Sunday if the British oil company isn't getting the job done "we'll push them out of the way appropriately." Asked at a press briefing at the White House what that would mean, Allen responded, "Well, I would say that's more of a metaphor."

"What we need to make sure is they execute their responsibilities ... and we carry out our responsibilities and be accountable as the federal on-scene coordinators," Allen said.

"... To push BP out of the way would raise the question to replace them with what?

"I've been involved with the technical decisions made, especially in relation to deal with the leak, and they are pressing ahead. We are overseeing them. They're exhausting every technical means possible to deal with that leak."

Later, the admiral said he thinks Salazar "is probably exhibiting the immense amount of frustration we all feel, and that we need to keep pressure on and make sure they are accountable and doing their jobs."

"As it stands right now, at least in my opinion, the means of production is in the hands of BP; they just need to do their job," Allen said.

Millions of gallons of crude oil have flowed into the gulf since an April 20 explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drill rig, killing 11 workers, and the total amount grows daily. Allen said the "ultimate solution is going to be to drill a relief well, take the pressure off that well and cap it."

Two relief wells are being drilled but Allen said it will be "sometime in August." before the damaged well is capped.

Allen acknowledged there may be differences within the government about BP chief executive Tony Hayward's credibility.

"... I judge personally my communications with anybody, including Tony Hayward, and I would characterize when I tell him something, he says he understands it, he follows up," Allen said.

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