On his Fox News show tonight, Bill O'Reilly opened his Talking Points Memo by declaring that there had been an "amazing screw-up in the Gulf cleanup." He went on to relay the details of an ABC News report about 16 oil-collecting barges in the Gulf that had been called back to shore because of questions about safety measures aboard the ships. O'Reilly was incredulous:
O'REILLY: So why -- why -- would the Coast Guard shut them down? Ready? Because the Guard wanted to confirm there are life vests and fire extinguishers onboard the vessels, and the Guard couldn't find the people who built the barges to get that confirmation.
Insane? You bet. You halt the cleanup over life jackets?
O'Reilly seemed to do his best to minimize the danger involved in the situation by referring to the cleanup being stopped "over life jackets," and he later said that the barges "never should have been out of action." But as we noted earlier today, the barges weren't grounded simply because it couldn't be confirmed that they had safety equipment -- the ships did, in fact, lack the required equipment, and there were also concerns about their stability.
The Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong reported:
Sixteen crude-sucking barges are back in the Gulf of Mexico working to clean up oil, but the Coast Guard is defending its decision to ground the vessels because it couldn't verify whether there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board.
"The Coast Guard is not going to compromise safety ... that's our No. 1 priority," Coast Guard spokesman Robert Brassel told The Daily Caller.
Brassel said the barges are now "back in operating order."
On Thursday night, the Incident Commander in Houma, Roger Laferriere, decided with the captain of the port in New Orleans to inspect the barges when they realized the ships did not have a certificate of inspection to demonstrate safety equipment on board. Thursday morning, the ships were inspected and grounded because they did not have the proper fire-fighting and life-saving equipment. There were also concerns about the stability of the barges. During the day Thursday, the problems were fixed, and the barges are back out on the water today.
Does O'Reilly really think that these ships shouldn't have been recalled? This spill is an environmental catastrophe, one that every American wants cleaned up as quickly and completely as possible. But after 11 people died in the explosion that caused the spill, certainly no more lives should be put at risk than absolutely necessary. Hauling around thousands of gallons of oil, as these collection ships are, is dangerous business.