WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- Officials say U.S. laws have made it difficult to get skimmers to the Gulf of Mexico to sweep up oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
BP says only 433 boats are picking up oil, and only one-third of those are specialized skimmers, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reports.
The spill in the gulf is the biggest in U.S. history. But it does not invalidate the Jones Act of 1992, which protects U.S. shipping and forced a French company to sell nine skimmers to a U.S. company before they could be used, and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which requires skimmers to be on standby in ports around the country.
U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., used a Coast Guard map last week that showed 850 skimmers in the southeast and 1,600 nationwide.
"We are literally talking about more than a thousand skimmers that are available, but we only have 400 -- if this number is correct -- at work," LeMieux said. "It is hard to believe that the response is this anemic; it is hard to believe that there is this lack of urgency or sense of purpose in getting this done."