Largest skimmer in the world must be deemed ‘effective’ by the federal government before it’s allowed to help with oil clean-up

Jon Ward Contributor
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The largest skimming ship in the world — known as an “A Whale” — is expected to arrive in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, but will be prevented from contracting with BP to help clean up the oil spill until the federal government decides that the vessel is “effective.”

The Coast Guard will not clear the Taiwan-owned ship – which is reportedly the length of 3 football fields and 10 stories high – to join the clean-up until it undergoes a test.

“The Coast Guard research and development center has a team of personnel that are ready to observe the tests to test the efficacy of the vessels systems, as well as its ability to safely operate in that area down there,” Coast Guard spokesman Ron LaBrec told The Daily Caller.

LaBrec said that the Coast Guard does not have concerns about the environmental impact of the ship’s operations. Some reports have said that the Environmental Protection Agency is worried that some of the 500,000 barrels of oily water sucked up each day by the vessel may contain some traces of oil when placed back in the Gulf.

An EPA spokesman did not return a request for comment by press time.

The Coast Guard spokesman said that there are no legal concerns holding up the “A Whale” skimmer. The Jones Act, which prohibits foreign ships from operating in or near U.S. ports in many circumstances, does not apply to skimmers.

LaBrec said that the holdup for the super skimmer was required only because the government is required to give it the green light, even though BP would be the one paying for the skimmer and on the hook if it was not effective.

“There are standards for oil spill response vessels, testing standards,” LaBrec said. “The federal on-scene coordinator is involved in approving the different technologies that are used in the response to make sure there are no issues with that.”

A BP spokesman said the oil company had not asked the skimmer to come help with the cleanup.

“They’ve just turned up hoping to help out. We haven’t contracted with them,” the BP spokesman said.

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