Mystery solved: Maine factory's containment boom rejected for failing quality control test

The blogospheric buzz last week over this story piqued Tapper’s curiosity so he followed up with the Coast Guard. We’ve got a factory in Maine cranking out mile after mile of containment boom; we’ve got two U.S. Senators sending letters to the Coast Guard last month to let them know about it; and we’ve got so much red tape tangling things up that Adm. Thad Allen still hadn’t heard about it as of three days ago. This can’t be such a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare that perfectly good boom is going untouched because the feds still can’t get their act together after almost two months, can it?

Thankfully, no:

Over the weekend, Capt. Ron LaBrec from Coast Guard Public Affairs told me that according to a BP quality control inspector the PackGen boom did not pass an initial quality control test…

“There were concerns with material and end connectors,” LaBrec said. “BP has inspectors who visit facilities and regularly test boom. In addition to testing boom from new suppliers, boom from existing manufacturers is also tested/inspected. The Coast Guard also inspects boom that we purchase from suppliers. It is important because poorly designed boom may not work as intended.”

Lapoint said the boom “not only meets” standards, “it exceeds it.”

“The only issue was the end connectors,” Lapoint said. So, he said, “we changed it to the universal connector, so there shouldn’t be any problems at all.”

But he remains frustrated. “I had two engineers go down to the Gulf. I was told it had to be the universal connector. I can’t tell you the miles of boom coming in from overseas that doesn’t have the universal connector.” He called the pushback against his boom “hogwash.”

Another BP inspector swung by the factory on Friday and reportedly seemed more “receptive.” Which, I guess, frames the new question: If bringing the boom up to spec was a relatively simple matter, why wasn’t that communicated to PackGen weeks ago?

Speaking of things that should have been done weeks ago, Tapper’s also got a sneak preview of Obama’s Oval Office address tomorrow night. The item that caught my eye: Apparently he’s going to give us some sort of estimate on when BP should be able to capture most of the oil leaking from the well, which seems a highly risky proposition given their record of failures thus far. Then again, considering that he’s now actually sending out fundraising e-mails related to the spill, the next missed deadline will at least have a silver lining for his campaign treasury. Here he is this afternoon reassuring an anxious America that the gulf’s seafood remains scrump-diddly-umptious. Thank heaven for small mercies. Click the image to watch.