Ernest Franz is the kind of guy you want to talk to if you're interested in what's happening with the Gulf oil spill. He's the President of Environmental Sampling, Inc., a 20-person firm that has been treating oil spills and conducting hazardous waste cleanup in the Louisiana area for almost 25 years. Environmental Sampling is an action response contractor for the state of Louisiana, having conducted thousands of investigations and cleanup projects for nearly every American oil and gas company.
Mr. Franz gave a candid assessment of the Gulf oil spill, the way the fallout has beent handled, and the timeline for environmental recovery.
BANDES: How badly did BP conduct themselves when this spill occurred?
FRANZ: From day one, I don't think anybody knew for sure what happened. The only people who could answer that were the people on the rig floor who were most probably killed from the blowout and subsequent explosion. After the fact, it appears that the rig itself had received several violations, but I don't really know if the violations were even associated to anything that could have caused the blowout.
When you're in a situation like that, until the actual thing happens, its going to be chaos. You don't know who's alive, who's dead, who needs help and so on. The lights are out, there's desk, beds and all kinds of debris everywhere, and I also understand that their was a strong methane smell which would create more panic. In regards to stopping the leak and cleaning up the release, originally I think BP thought they could get this thing stopped pretty quickly and it wasn't going to be all that big of deal. In hindsight, they probably could've mobilized things faster and contained the spill faster.but by the time they realized the situation, it was near impossible to contain it with the seas, swells, tides and such. Now they're fighting it on the beaches instead of near the source of the leak.
BANDES: What do you think of the way the Obama administration and Congress has been responding to the fallout?