Environment Group Leader Responds to Washington Post Article

Wade Bryant, the environmental unit leader on the MC-20 response, authored a letter to the editor published by the Washington Post in response to the paper’s article that relied on unverified science.

Where’s the Oil

Published by the Washington Post on Nov. 9, 2018

A gas transmission pipeline cuts the landscape in St. Bernard Parish, La. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

The Oct. 22 front-page article “For gulf oil spill, no end in sight” relied on analysis used by the Interior Department as part of litigation that had not been used to guide the response. I know because I am the environmental unit leader on this response. Now publicized, this information is misleading the public and may well be used to rationalize ill-advised actions.

If the government position is that “millions of barrels” have been leaking, why does it refuse to share data that supports this position — which would be crucial to the response? A better question yet is “Where’s the oil?”

Following Coast Guard protocols, the observed volume is consistently less than 100 gallons. The estimates of 12,600 to 25,200 gallons per day “spewing” are based on fundamentally flawed analyses and are contrary to the production history of the platform. Any implication that the incident was “kept secret” is contrary to the record. Taylor Energy reported that the platform was missing the day after the hurricane, and continues to work cooperatively on this response. Before my retirement from federal service, I worked with a team of dozens of subject-matter experts. Our scientific consensuses for response actions were based on the fundamental principle that no actions should be undertaken that would likely do more harm than good. Now, though, Interior’s analyses have opened Pandora’s box in the form of public outcry demanding action, a reasonable response given the erroneous information.

Wade Bryant, Baton Rouge

The writer is a senior environmental scientist with CK Associates, an environmental consultancy paid by Taylor Energy Company LLC.