Coast Guard Says Spill is ‘More Apollo 13 than Exxon Valdez’
In a brief news conference with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, Adm. Thad Allen said the spill "already is a national problem" and that the Coast Guard has set up command posts and distributed equipment along the Gulf coast to coordinate clean-up operations.
"Right now, we don't think there's an imminent threat to Florida," Allen said. "If there is, it will likely be somewhere around the Panhandle first."
Allen said the federal government is working closely with state and local authorities from Louisiana to Florida, as well as officials at BP Oil Co. and TransOcean Drilling Co., in response to the threat.
Allen said distribution of oil containment booms, dispersant chemicals and other equipment has gone smoothly, but the huge oil slick is different from other oil well or tanker incidents he has seen.
"Everything has gone according to plan; the problem is, this is not an according-to-plan spill," he said. "This is an anomalous, asymmetrical event that defies traditional oil-spill responses.
"Probably the most significant thing about it is it's happening 5,000 feet down. We're captive to the tyranny of what I call distance and depth and there's no human access to the site of the spill."
Allen said that in nearly 30 years in the Coast Guard, he has never dealt with a spill that has no human access to its origin. Recovery crews have to depend on deep-water cameras and robot equipment, he said.
"I've been telling people this is more like Apollo 13 than the Exxon Valdez," he said.