BP Response Plan Was Based on Surface Spills
Government models weren't updated for deepwater drilling
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2010 5:38 AM CDT
Government-provided response plans stated that it was very unlikely that oil from a major spill in the Gulf of Mexico would ever wash ashore.   (AP Photo/ Michael Spooneybarger)
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(Newser) – BP's response to the Gulf spill was based on outdated government-provided models that were proven wrong by scientists before they were proven wrong by the disaster. The Minerals Management Service predictions—which didn't even address how oil would behave when spilled a mile under the surface—gave very low odds of oil from a spill even bigger than BP's reaching the Gulf of Mexico coast, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The models haven't been updated since 2004, despite recommendations that new models be prepared specifically for deep-sea drilling. One study in the late 1990s released floating objects in the Gulf of Mexico to simulate an oil spill. After 30 days, the drifting objects had taken a path 300 miles off the course that the government model predicted. Researchers, however, concluded that the discrepancy was "neither surprising nor disappointing," and "do not negate the utility" of the model.