Heritage reports on the problem with the giant skimmer:
“The A-Whale is the essence of an international ship—built in South Korea, modified in Portugal, owned by Taiwanese and flagged in Liberia. And that is part of the problem. Even if it stays farther offshore than the 3-mile limit of America’s Jones Act, it still requires approval by the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency before BP can hire the A-Whale and put it to work.
The second problem is that the ship would gather spilled oil, separate the water from the oil, and discharge the water back into the ocean so its tanks could be filled with oil. Our EPA has a problem with that, because the discharge because the discharge would retain a minor amount of oily residue. To EPA, any residue greater than 15 parts per million is impermissible. They elevate perfection above the need for speed.
So there you have it America, you can’t remove 99% of the oil, because it can’t remove 99.999985%. The ship is said to be able to remove 99.999950% of the oil.”