Director James Cameron says BP turned down help offer

PALOS VERDES, Calif Thu Jun 3, 2010 3:02am EDT

Film director and Lightstorm Entertainment Chairman James Cameron answers a reporter's question during a news conference after he delivered a keynote address titled ''Renaissance now in imagination and technology'' at the Seoul Digital Forum 2010 May 13, 2010. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Film director and Lightstorm Entertainment Chairman James Cameron answers a reporter's question during a news conference after he delivered a keynote address titled ''Renaissance now in imagination and technology'' at the Seoul Digital Forum 2010 May 13, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jo Yong-Hak

Related Topics

PALOS VERDES, Calif (Reuters) - Film director and deep-sea explorer James Cameron said on Wednesday that BP Plc turned down his offer to help combat the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Over the last few weeks I've watched, as we all have, with growing horror and heartache, watching what's happening in the Gulf and thinking those morons don't know what they're doing," Cameron said at the All Things Digital technology conference.

Cameron, the director of "Avatar" and "Titanic," has worked extensively with robot submarines and is considered an expert in undersea filming. He did not say explicitly who he meant when he referred to "those morons."

His comments came a day after he participated in a meeting at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington to "brainstorm" solutions to the oil spill.

Cameron said he has offered to help the government and BP in dealing with the spill. He said he was "graciously" turned away by the British energy giant.

He said he has not spoken with the White House about his offer, and said that the outside experts who took part in the EPA meeting were now "writing it all up and putting in reports to the various agencies."

The film director has helped develop deep-sea submersible equipment and other underwater ocean technology for the making of documentaries exploring the wrecks of the ocean liner Titanic and the German battleship Bismarck some two miles below the surface.


Cameron suggested the U.S. government needed to take a more active role in monitoring the undersea gusher, which has become the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

"I know really, really, really smart people that work typically at depths much greater than what that well is at," Cameron said.

The BP oil spill off the U.S. Gulf Coast is located a mile below the surface.

While acknowledging that his contacts in the deep-sea industry do not drill for oil, Cameron said that they are accustomed to operating various underwater vehicles and electronic optical fiber systems.

"Most importantly," he added, "they know the engineering that it requires to get something done at that depth."

Among the key issues that Cameron said he is interested in helping the government with are methods of monitoring the oil leak and investigating it.

"The government really needs to have its own independent ability to go down there and image the site, survey the site and do its own investigation," he said.

"Because if you're not monitoring it independently, you're asking the perpetrator to give you the video of the crime scene," Cameron added.

Cameron made two documentaries about the wreck of the Titanic as well as the blockbuster 1997 movie "Titanic" using a small fleet of specially designed remotely operated underwater vehicles. He said his qualifications are not based on his background as a movie director but on his years of involvement in the deep-sea industry.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, with additional reporting by Jill Sergeant)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (13)
James1976 wrote:
What a joke and incompetent of a president Obama (at least so far) has been. Of course, he’ll do anything he can to appease his trial court lawyer buddies.

Maybe that’s why the first thing he tried to do on this matter was raise the liability to 10 billion dollars which accomplishes absolutely nothing with respect to stopping or stemming the flow of oil into the Gulf or even cleaning it up for that matter.

Obama, you have betrayed your base on this matter.

This thing appalls me as it should anyone else with at least a semblance of decency.

Listen to what Cameron said. He offered to help through both bp and the Obama admin. He got turned down by bp. The fact that Obama is allowing himself to be pulled around like a dog on a leash (by bp of all people) ought to appall anyone out there.

BP should have been “pushed aside” on this matter long ago and the feds are obligated to take it over.

I’m not trying to villanize BP over this matter. Especially not now. It would be way premature (and most likely counter- productive) to publicly show such sentiment.

You say criminal charges Holder? Jesus says, “He that is without sin amongst you let him cast the first stone.”

If BP is criminally culpable in this, you’d better believe there are people in the government’s regulatory bodies that are at least equally criminally culpable if not more so. So, got get ‘em Obama/Holder.

They say this is Obama’s Katrina. I say it is worse than Katrina. It is even worse than Bush senior’s sickening response to the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Good riddance to you Obama/Holder in 2012.

Jun 03, 2010 3:14am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This gets to be silly fast. What exactly is the problem that Cameron is offering to solve? Underwater observation? That is not a problem in this case, they have all sorts of observations. Underwater robots? They have that too. Better robot operators? lack of skill does not appear to be the problem. Is BP the problem? They are focusing on trying to stop the spill, hard enough to do without the threats of jail time. One wonders if somebody will suggest capital punishment for such disasters. This is the way the Mafia operates, make a mistake and you end up in a dumpster.

Jun 03, 2010 8:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
PogoWolf wrote:
James1976 wrote: “Jesus says, “He that is without sin amongst you let him cast the first stone.””
…then shut up.

If Cameron really knows all these really smart people.. then forget waiting for BP to give permission.. Just do it.

This should have a higher priory then waiting for permission. Fix the problem, then worry about the possible repercussions.

Human repercussions that would be NOTHING compared to the death and destruction that’s been created now in nature.

Jun 03, 2010 9:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.