Massachusetts Companies Get Lion’s Share of Oil Spill Contracts


Massachusetts-based companies received twice as much money in federal contracts stemming from the BP Plc oil spill as the combined total of the five Gulf of Mexico states where the oil washed up, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Rankings.

Contractors in the state, more than 1,500 miles from the site of the April 20 explosion of BP’s Macondo well off the Louisiana coast, collected at least $51.7 million through Nov. 1, about 28 percent of what the U.S. spent, information from the Federal Procurement Data System shows.

Of the five states where businesses received the most money, only Louisiana borders the Gulf. Its contracts totaled at least $10.9 million. Combined with money for businesses in Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida, the Gulf states received $25.3 million.

The disparity stems from agreements the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has with damage-assessment consultants based outside of the region, said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the Commerce Department agency.

“The contracts are set up in advance to provide support capabilities in response to emergency pollution events,” Vaccaro said. “Their expertise is not simply transferable to another firm in the Gulf region nor are the contract mechanisms in place.”

The agency’s consultants include Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Industrial Economics Inc., which has received at least $47.5 million in spill-related contracts, all from NOAA, more than any other company, the federal data shows.

Industrial Economics “is subcontracting with local firms in the Gulf as much as possible,” Vaccaro said.

Boulder, Colorado-based Stratus Consulting Inc., another NOAA consultant, received the second-largest amount of money from the contracts, putting its home state in third place.

As of Nov. 1, $186.8 million in contracts had been awarded by 14 government departments for products and services related to the clean-up. Almost half, $90.5 million, came from NOAA. The total may be larger because data from the Department of Defense is subject to a 90-day delay.

See complete list of contract rankings here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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