News of the WeekGulf Oil Spill

After Outcry, Oil Data Inches Into the Open

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Science  20 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5994, pp. 888-889
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5994.888-a

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In a largely unexpected and welcome move, BP has revised its contracts to remove restrictions on discussing or publishing any data collected on their dime for up to 3 years. And with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration relaxing its own restrictions on publishing assessment data, scientists are hopeful that the so-called Natural Resource Damage Assessment, the legal process during which the government and BP collect evidence on the extent of the oil's impact, will be less adversarial than they'd feared. A sample contract provided to Science by BP allows signers to publish "written research papers, presentations and similar documents reporting any environmental data obtained or produced" as a consultant after giving BP 30 days' notice and a copy of the intended publication.