With the Gulf oil gusher capped and little oil washing ashore in Alabama, BP said Friday it has removed more than 80,000 feet of oil-blocking boom from state waters, but not everyone is happy with the turn of events.
The petroleum giant said it began taking boom out of the water because of Tropical Storm Bonnie, which moved into the Gulf late last month, and many of the barriers weren’t returned to the coast at the request of states.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said local leaders aren’t being given input on the work and know only what they hear on the news.
“I’ve been given no written plan, but they are removing boom as fast as they can,” he said. “They’re getting their little red wagon packed and leaving town.”
Kennon said the company also refused to pay for maintaining a steel boom system that was constructed at a cost of $4.6 million to prevent oil from entering Perdido Bay, so the massive rig is being mothballed.
“What happens if a plume shows up at the mouth of the pass? I don’t know,” Kennon said.
Gov. Bob Riley’s office did not return messages seeking comment on whether it approves of the boom removal.
BP PLC said it has removed 83,100 feet of boom since Tuesday, but another 782,535 feet of the material remained in coastal waters. The company has pledged to clean up the Gulf, and officials deny BP is leaving the region prematurely.
BP has paid $70 million in claims to Alabamians because of the oil spill, with all but $7 million paid out in Mobile and Baldwin counties, according to figures released by the company. But Kennon said payments are dragging and the summer tourist season is all but over, so many businesses could shutter for good after Labor Day.
“The threat of bankruptcy for these people is a lot worse than the threat of oil right now,” he said.