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