Skip to main content

BP contractor denies beefing up workers for Obama visit

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
BP accused staging cleanup workers
  • BP beefed up cleanup workers just for Obama visit, local official says
  • Workers weren't added just for the president, boss tells CNN
  • Workers left when president left, parish councilman says
  • BP denies allegations: 'It's not associated with the president arriving'

(CNN) -- An independent contractor supplying workers to clean up an oil spill on the Gulf Coast denied Saturday that his company sent more workers to Grand Isle, Louisiana, on Friday just because President Obama was visiting.

Donald Nalty of Environmental Safety and Health, the company BP hired to supply cleanup workers, denied a Gulf Coast official's claim that it sent the workers to Grand Isle in a "dog and pony show" to coincide with the president's visit.

"Absolutely, without a doubt, no. I had no idea about the president," Nalty told CNN.

"Whether it's the president or whatever dignitary is coming into the area, it makes no difference to us. We're there to clean up Grand Isle," he said.

Video: BP accused of staging cleanup photo-op
Video: Carville: 'We want our culture back'

Councilman Chris Roberts of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, accused BP on Friday of shipping workers to Grand Isle for Obama's visit and sending them away after the president left.

On Saturday, however, Nalty told CNN that his company decided several days before it knew of Obama's visit that it would send 400 workers to Grand Isle on Friday.

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told CNN that it is not unusual to see people wrapping up work in the afternoon.

"These individuals are working out in the heat of the sun. These are long days. They start early in the morning and they stop early in the evening," he said.

"So the fact that they were leaving the location late in the afternoon was not unusual. It's not associated with the president arriving."

Suttles added that the workers would be back Saturday morning to continue working.

Oil disaster: Tracking the numbers
Part of complete coverage on
Impact Your World: How to help
A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers to help clean up coastal areas
Depths of the disaster
Get the numbers, see the images and learn how the worst U.S. oil spill has changed lives, ruined economies and more.
iReport: Gulf journals
These stories help us look into the lives of the hardworking people of the Gulf as they watch this disaster take its toll.
Send your photos, videos
Is your area being affected by the spill? Help CNN track the oil slick and its effects on Gulf Coast communities and wildlife
Map: What's been hit
Interactive map locates oil sightings and stories
Daily developments
How big is the slick? What's being affected? What's being done?
Track the major developments of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
Berms, booms, blowouts: Glossary
Breaking down the jargon of the disaster