The first thing we talked about was that NOAA report. Steiner said it was obviously full of guesswork -- and bad guesswork at that. "They shouldn't have even tried to issue these numbers right now," he said. "I smell politics all over it. The only plausible explanation is they were in a rush to hang the 'Mission Accomplished' banner."
And Steiner suspects the 10 percent recovery rate for BP is actually overstated. The report based its conclusions on operational reports showing that 11.1 million gallons of oil were burned and 34.7 million gallons of oily water were recovered through skimming.
But Steiner said the actual amount of oil recovered could be about half what the report claims. The oil-water mix, which officials evidently assumed was 20 percent oil, could well have been closer to 10 percent, he said. As for the burned oil figures, "they are simply coming from the BP contractors out there and then put into the Incident Command reports as gospel. As far as I know, there was no independent observation or estimation of those numbers."