The risk management and emergency response plans of BP America and Transocean Ltd. for accidental oil and gas releases have garnered lawmaker scrutiny as a Gulf of Mexico (GOM) oil slick grows following an apparent well blowout last week.

On Tuesday House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bart Stupak (D-MI) sent letters to the companies requesting documents for an investigation of the adequacy of their plans for accidental oil and gas releases at the now-sunk Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and other offshore deepwater or ultra-deepwater drilling facilities.

BP and Transocean are attempting to contain the oil spilling from the well with techniques that have never been used before at depths of 5,000 feet.

The lawmakers have requested voluntary submission by May 4 of documents dating back to Jan. 1, 2000 such as those:

The accident occurred Tuesday (April 20). Last weekend responders estimated that 1,000 b/d of oil had begun leaking from the well in Mississippi Canyon Block 252 (see Daily GPI, April 27).

On Tuesday the companies, the U.S. Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service provided an update of the response efforts. They said an overflight on Monday afternoon determined that there was a 600-mile circumference rainbow sheen with areas of emulsified crude approximately 36 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

More than 29,280 feet of boom had been assigned to contain the spill. An additional 80,900 feet is available and 36,100 feet had been ordered.

To date the response team has recovered 1,152 bbl of an oil-water mix using 49 response vessels, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels. Additionally, 29,140 gallons of oil dispersant have been deployed and an additional 119,734 gallons are available.

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