Washington: The US government Wednesday launched a new website to give information on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, moving away from the portal jointly run with oil giant BP.Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the top government official handling the spill, said the site www.RestoreTheGulf.gov was "designed to serve as a one-stop repository for news, data and operational updates related to administration-wide efforts to stop the BP oil leak."
The website aims to provide "even greater transparency and openness about the BP oil spill, our historic response, the tools available to assist Gulf Coast communities, and plans for the region`s long-term recovery and restoration," Allen said in a statement.
Critics had accused the former site -- www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com which came online in the early days following the BP-leased oil rig`s sinking in the Gulf of Mexico on April 22 -- of sending mixed messages.
Operated by both BP and the federal government, the site was singled out for failing at transparency notably when debate raged over the flow rate of oil gushing into the Gulf.
At times, the oil giant`s figures were uncritically cited on the website, even when government officials publicly questioned BP`s account of the oil spill`s size.
The old site was still operational Wednesday, and like the new site contained the latest daily press briefing by Allen.
Officials said the new portal links to government news releases and allows more streamlined access to people filing claims on losses due to the spill.
Users can also view current operations, data maps and ways to volunteer for the clean-up effort, Allen said.
"We are committed to providing the American people access to complete and accurate information about our response to the BP oil spill and the resources available to assist those directly impacted," he added.
Latest US estimates suggest up to 60,000 barrels of oil a day are leaking from the ruptured well, which is not expected to be permanently capped until the first of two relief wells is completed, allowing mud and cement to be injected into the leak.