This season’s first tropical storm, Alex, heads towards Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, and is not expected to disrupt the BP oil spill clean up. However, crews are updating their plans for such an emergency. As many as five days may be necessary to shut down all operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Depending how long a storm lingers, this could mean a period of two weeks or more where no oil containment would be happening. Also, little to no clean up would be taking place during such a period, only adding to the disaster.

After a robot arm struck the well cap earlier this week, BP had to shut down the oil capture and remove the cap to inspect it. For some 12 hours, as many as 30,000 barrels of oil may have gushed into the Gulf’s waters. Once the cap was secured again, BP is averaging about 25,000 barrels a day of captured or burnt-off oil. With the latest government estimates that the well is gushing 60,000 barrels a day, BP is still confident they can eventually handle 90% of the flow by the time a relief well is completed in early August.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Alex is bringing the harsh realities of a potential shutdown to the crews at the well site and along the coast battling the spill. Even a lesser storm would force operations to suspend due to the threat of lightning. New emergency plans are being revised and updated.

Other interesting news this week came when BP approved the use of the centrifuges developed by a company owned by film actor-director Kevin Costner. After a trial run of the device, BP has awarded a contract for 32 of the centrifuges to be deployed. They can process some 128,000 barrels of water per day each, and while extracting nearly all oil from the water. Only a trace amount is still detected in tests.

Also this week, we learned that the disaster response plans which BP submitted to the Mineral Management Service last summer, as required by Federal regulations, were based on faulty information, provided by the Federal government! Yes, here we go again. The MMS, now renamed by Obama as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, provided data to base disaster response plans that was completely inaccurate. If that wasn’t bad enough, the world’s largest testing tank run by the MMS at a U.S. Naval facility in New Jersey, has sprung a leak and has been shut down.

The Oil and Hazardous Material Simulated Environmental Test Tank is expected to be repaired and functioning again in several weeks. Oddly enough it doesn’t matter, as when the facility contacted the U.S. Coast Guard following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, the USCG declined any offers of assistance because they were “too busy”. So the facility was never involved in the oil spill crisis anyway.

Should Tropical Storm Alex turn northeastwardly after ravaging Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, the USCG may be too busy again. This is just one more log on the fire of the chain of tragedies that have led to the largest oil spill in U.S. history. So many potential resources to aid the effort have been declined or ignored. On top of that, vital data from various Federal agencies and scientists have proved to be completely inaccurate, such as the earlier estimates of only 1,000 to 5,000 barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf. The role that the government, and the Obama Administration, has played in the BP oil spill is increasing and generally getting more negative.