Four weeks after the nation’s worst environmental disaster, the Obama administration saw no need to accept offers of state-of-the-art skimmers, miles of boom or technical assistance from nations around the globe with experience fighting oil spills.
"We'll let BP decide on what expertise they do need," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters on May 19. "We are keeping an eye on what supplies we do need. And as we see that our supplies are running low, it may be at that point in time to accept offers from particular governments."
That time has come.
In the past week, the United States submitted its second request to the European Union for any specialised equipment to contain the oil now seeping onto the Gulf of Mexico's marshes and beaches, and it accepted Canada's offer of 9,842 feet of boom.
The government is soliciting additional boom and skimmers from nearly two dozen countries and international organisations worldwide.
In late May, the administration accepted Mexico's offer of two skimmers and 13,779 feet of boom; a Dutch offer of three sets of Koseq sweeping arms, which attach to the sides of ships and gather oil; and eight skimming systems offered by Norway.
"As we understand what we need and identify domestic and foreign sources, we will act," said State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, who said the United States has received 21 aid offers from 17 countries and four international groups.
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