Right-wing media lob baseless attack on gov't for not yet purchasing Maine company's oil boom

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Right-wing blogs have recently seized on a report that criticized the Obama administration for not purchasing oil containment boom that a manufacturer in Maine produced specifically for the Gulf oil spill. However, they ignored that the boom is a new product, which reportedly "differs from other designs being used," and BP has reportedly "ordered a trial run" of the boom before committing to purchase it.

Hoft, Allahpundit criticize the gov't for not immediately purchasing untested product

Pajamas Media reports that "no one will buy" Packgen's boom. On June 8, Pajamas Media posted an article about Packgen president John Lapoint, a manufacturer in Maine who "says he's got plenty of floating oil containment boom and can make lots more on short notice. There's just one problem: no one will buy it from him." The article stated that "Packgen's main business is not making oil boom," but that Lapoint "started manufacturing oil boom, figuring that Packgen would be able to sell it to help in the containment and cleanup effort. He added shifts and employees, and started cranking out the oil boom right away. It was a big financial risk -- and he knew that -- but he also figured that in an emergency of that magnitude, you had to act quickly, and figured that BP and the federal government would have to act quickly as well, and every single foot of boom he could make would be useful and in immediate demand." The article quoted a New England Cable News article that said BP "sent a quality control person to Maine, looked at the factory, and was impressed by what he saw," but that it had "yet to approve Packgen's design."

Jim Hoft: "If Barack Obama really wants to find some ass to kick. It may be his own." In a June 8 post on Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft wrote that "[t]here are miles of floating oil containment boom in warehouse right now and the manufacturer Packgen says it can make lots more on short notice. There's just one problem... No one will come get it." [emphasis in original] Then, after quoting part of the Pajamas Media story, Hoft wrote: "It didn't have to be this way. Our southern shores could have been spared. If Barack Obama really wants to find some ass to kick. It may be his own." Hoft also compared the situation to the criticism then-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin received during Hurricane Katrina for not using school buses to transport people out of the city.

Allahpundit: "Jim Hoft's Katrina school-bus comparison is going to be awfully popular awfully soon." After quoting Pajamas Media, Hot Air's Allahpundit suggested in a June 8 post that government "red tape" could be at fault for not approving the boom's purchase and said that if the product works, then "Jim Hoft's Katrina school-bus comparison is going to be awfully popular awfully soon." From the post:

Lapointe seems to be under the impression that he's stuck waiting for BP to approve a purchase, but that can't be true, can it? Surely the feds can step in and buy as much boom as they want. They're still the ones in charge of protecting the coastline, aren't they? Or has Kickass now farmed out that task to a guy he won't even talk to on the phone? Remember, Jindal was demanding millions of feet of boom just a week or so after the rig exploded and, as of May 24, was still millions of feet short. I sure hope we're going to find out tomorrow that Packgen's material simply isn't equal to the task and needs to be rejected, because if it turns out this is purely a matter of red tape -- and if BP's new claim that it's ready to capture "virtually all" of the remaining oil doesn't pan out -- then Jim Hoft's Katrina school-bus comparison is going to be awfully popular awfully soon.

BP reportedly "ordered a trial run" of the boom

WCSH6 reported that BP "ordered a trial run" of the product, which "differs from other designs being used." Maine news station WCSH6 reported June 3 that BP "has ordered a trial run of the product but there is no word of when or if the design will be approved." The article also stated that "[i]t differs from other designs being used because, according to company officials, it creates a tighter seal between pieces preventing oil from leaking past the barrier." From the article:

Just two weeks ago PackGen in Auburn announced it was ramping up production to make oil containment booms.

This week that production like [sic] is virtually silent. The company already made tens of thousands of feet of the booms but BP hasn't approved the design.

It differs from other designs being used because, according to company officials, it creates a tighter seal between pieces preventing oil from leaking past the barrier.

BP has ordered a trial run of the product but there is no word of when or if the design will be approved.

Wednesday Senator Olympia Snowe toured the PackGen facility and expressed her frustration that the government is not playing a bigger role in managing the clean-up and containment efforts in the Gulf.

Manufacturer's boom is a new product

Packgen reportedly began manufacturing boom after the oil spill began. The Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal reported May 19 that Packgen, a Maine company that "makes composite packaging used to contain environmental and hazardous waste," hoped to "capitalize on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by churning out a much-sought-after oil containment tool known as a boom." The article quoted Packgen's president as saying they were "still pitching (to buyers)" and that BP had "shown interest and even sent up a company auditor to check out Packgen."

Packgen continued manufacturing 35,000 feet per day, despite not having a buyer. The Sun Journal also reported on June 3 that Packgen was "producing 35,000 feet of boom per day" and that it was still anticipating BP's response. From the article:

John Lapoint III, president of Packgen, said he had doubled his average work force last week and had 60 workers on the floor producing 35,000 feet of boom per day. But he has exhausted his resources and can't afford to keep up production until he gets someone to buy his product. He's back down to about 30 employees.

"We want to get our boom out there," he said to Snowe, adding that he sent a couple of employees to the oil spill region to get a better idea about conditions on the ground. He was told contractors working to clean up the spill wanted to buy his boom, but because it's not BP-approved, they would not get reimbursed for buying it.

That could soon change.

"Literally, as we are sitting here, we are firing off the updated specification and we hope to hear back from BP either later (on Wednesday) or (Thursday) at the latest," Lapoint said.

He said he was told by a BP official that approval could take an hour, a day or weeks.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
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Pajamas Media, Gateway Pundit
Person
Jim Hoft, Allahpundit
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Hot Air
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Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
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