Interior Fact Sheet - BP Deepwater Horizon Response



At approximately 10 pm on April 20th, a devastating explosion occurred on the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon Drill Rig, claiming the lives of eleven men.

Charged with protecting America’s natural and cultural resources, the Department of the Interior and its Bureaus have been working to support the Administration’s response efforts since the tragedy first occurred by:

  • Helping oversee BP’s efforts to close the leaks and clean up the oil;
  • Anticipating and preparing for the worst case scenario;
  • Jointly spear-heading the investigation into the event itself with the U.S. Coast Guard.  

DOI Response 

  • Secretary Salazar ordered the following response to the Deepwater Horizon incident:
  • Deployed Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes to the Gulf to assist with coordination and response to the incident.
  • Pressed BP officials and engineers to work harder, faster, and smarter to cap the leaks;
  • Urged other companies to bring their expertise, resources, and ideas to the effort as well;  
  • Ordered immediate inspections of all deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico;
  • Issued a safety notice to all operators, reminding them of their responsibilities to follow our regulations and to conduct full and thorough tests of their equipment;
  • Established the Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board within the Department of the Interior with top officials to strengthen OCS safety and improve overall management, regulation, and oversight of OCS operations;
  • Launched a joint investigation of the incident with the U.S. Coast Guard to determine what happened and hold those responsible to account.

In addition, Secretary Salazar has directed each of Interior’s Bureaus to support the Administration’s ongoing response efforts.  Thus far, Interior has deployed 214 personnel to the Gulf, including:

  • Minerals Management Service is working with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the operator of the drilling rig to secure the well and protect the environment and, in conjunction with USCG, conducting an investigation of the incident, http://www.mms.gov/DeepwaterHorizon.htm;
  • Fish & Wildlife Service is assisting with the immediate threats to fragile habitat as well as providing expertise in assessing and addressing the long-term damage to impacted resources, http://www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/index.html
  • National Park Service is drafting plans with USCG for wildlife reconnaissance and recovery and shoreline cleanup and assessment; conducting surveys, sampling, and flyovers to document baseline conditions; mobilizing resource experts to direct USCG and responsible party contractors during cleanup and recovery; and providing guidance and prioritization for protection measures such as boom placement in sensitive areas; updates are online for visitors and the public at http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/oil-spill-response.htm  as well as on individual park web pages; and
  • U.S. Geological Survey is developing geospatial and remote sensing information for use by the Unified Command.  Short- and long-term science planning is underway. Scientists from multiple disciplines are working together to support the needs of the other DOI Bureaus as well as other Federal, State and local organizations. The USGS is mobilizing crews to begin sampling of water, sand, sediment and vegetation. We will also be evaluating impacts to wildlife, http://www.usgs.gov/deepwater_horizon/.  

Read response information on DOI.gov at http://www.doi.gov/deepwaterhorizon.

View the White House Deepwater Horizon timeline at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/05/05/ongoing-administration-wide-response-deepwater-bp-oil-spill.

DOI Gulf Coast Assets

The Gulf Coast is home to one of the most ecologically complex regions in the country and site of a number of National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks and National Seashores protected by Interior on behalf of the American people.   Many of these treasured landscapes and wildlife areas are within the possible trajectory of the spill, including:

  • Twenty coastal National Wildlife Refuges, home to numerous species of birds and other wildlife.
    • Four wildlife refuges at immediate risk:  Breton, Delta, Grand Bay (AL) and Bon Secour (AL)-the last two are in Mobile Bay area.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore:  135,607 acres (19,445 upland) in Florida and Mississippi.
  • Padre Islands National Seashore, TX
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, LA
  • National parks at immediate risk include:
    • Gulf Islands National Seashore, (AL/MS)
    • Jean Lafitte National Historic Site and Preserve (LA)
    • Padre Island National Seashore (TX)
    • Biscayne National Park (FL)
    • Big Cypress National Park (FL)
    • De Soto National Memorial (FL)
    • Dry Tortugas National Park (FL)
    • Everglades National Park (FL)