Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

NWF: Oil Spill Data Kept Secret  

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. - Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, is not a happy fellow these days, because the effects of the BP oil spill on wildlife along the Gulf Coast are his concern. He says the U.S. government is keeping under wraps vital data that he needs.

"Unfortunately, a lot of the scientific assessments that are currently underway under the Natural Resources Damage Assessment are being held confidential."

Inkley says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is hoarding vast amounts of raw data, and is insisting on putting the data through a ponderous vetting process before making it public, or is just keeping the files secret indefinitely. The government says releasing the data prematurely could affect possible lawsuits.

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Inkley says one element giving the government and petroleum interests a case of disclosure nerves is the possible tidal wave of litigation  looming on the horizon.

"At the National Wildlife Federation we see no harm in releasing the information regarding what's happening to our fish and wildlife; that doesn't compromise litigation."

NOAA has told Inkley and others that some of the data will be released, but exactly when remains unclear. Inkley says BP has had access to all government data right away.

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