Ask CBS News: Can Foreign Ships Help Clean Up?

Ask CBS News, June 15, 2010.

In our ongoing "Ask CBS News" segment, we've answered your questions about the Gulf oil spill. Viewers can leave questions on "CBS Evening News" Anchor Katie Couric's Twitter page or the CBS News Facebook page.

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Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Tonight we answered more of your questions.

A viewer asked: "Why can't we get a waiver to the Jones Law and let foreign ships help with cleaning up the oil spill?"

CBS News correspondent Chip Reid answered that the Jones Law is an old law that limits shipment between U.S. ports by foreign vessels. I called the Department of Homeland Security about this and officials here at the White House. They say they are getting waivers. In fact, there are now about 15 ships from at least eight nations in the Gulf, including Spain, the United Kingdom, Norway and Panama and they believe that more will be coming in the days to come.

A viewer asked: "Did the government really review BP's contingency plan? And if so, shouldn't the officials who did be held accountable?"

CBS News correspondent Sharyl Atkisson answered: The government was supposed to review BP's, and all the other, plans. That's under the Department of the Interior Minerals Management Service. They approved the plans so either they didn't take a good look at them or they gave them a pass anyway. It's part of the reason why the head of MMS resigned and the agency is being shaken up.

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