Has BP jumped the shark on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?

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Footage shot by CBS TV news in the US showing coastguards turning away media from filming an oil-covered beach because of ‘BP rules’ is widely being touted by environmentalists of government collusion with BP.

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However it may not be as simple as that, the oil covered sand represents a potential chemical irritant and may also have noxious vapours from lighter fractions and sulphur compounds – so I could see a health issue and potential liability issues in keeping the beach clear of non-professionals.

That may not help BP’s case given that both coastguard and contractors were not wearing or carrying safety equipment in plain sight beyond what looked like buoyancy vests and hard hats.