James Cameron says 'morons' charged with fixing Gulf oil spill

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Thursday, June 3, 2010; 1:08 PM

"Avatar" and "Titanic" director James Cameron on Wednesday evening criticized those responsible for stopping the geyser of oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico and again offered the assistance of the private team of deep-sea experts with whom which he has worked on several underwater films and exploration efforts.

"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 D: All Things Digital conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal near Los Angeles.

Cameron developed expertise in deep sea robotic vehicles and submersibles over a period of 22 years, he said. That's led to the filming of two documentaries about the Titanic, as well as the feature film of that name, which at the time was the highest-grossing feature film ever. He also directed "The Abyss."

"Wait a minute, I know a lot of smart people in deep submergence," Cameron said he thought as the Gulf crisis deepened. "Why don't I just get all these people that I know together for a brainstorming session?"

Cameron told the audience that on Tuesday he had gathered 23 people -- a "who's who" of the deep sea robotics community -- together through the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, though no one from the EPA attended the meeting.

"We're writing it all up and putting it in reports to various agencies," he said of the meeting's results.

He said he has not been in touch with anyone from the White House, and that earlier proffers of assistance he had made to BP were rebuffed.

"They could not have been more gracious but they basically said, 'We've got this,'" he said.

Cameron said one reason he hoped his offer of access to private film-equipped deep-water vehicles would be taken up was to more accurately convey what was happening under water.

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

This is not the only instance in which Cameron's film work has also had technical implications of potential interest outside of Hollywood. In April, it was reported that he was "working with Malin Space Science Systems Inc. of San Diego to build an updated camera that, if completed in time, will be installed on the Mars Science Laboratory rover" Curiosity, scheduled to be launched in 2011, according to Computerworld. The camera would have 3-D and zoom capacities similar to those used in Cameron's recent movie projects.

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