DOI News


The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill


05/07/2010

Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED May 7, 2010, 9PM
PAST 24 HOURS

Deploying and Activating the Coffer Dam
The Unified Area Command is carefully tracking the complicated procedure to assemble a subsea capture system that would entail pumping leaking oil up to a vessel on the surface.

Offshore Drilling Permit Applications Halted
Secretary Salazar announced that, as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, beginning April 20—the date of the explosion—no applications for drilling permits will go forward for any new offshore drilling activity until the Department of the Interior completes the safety review process that President Obama requested. In accordance with the President’s request, the Department will deliver its report to the President by May 28. The only exceptions to the new rule regarding permit approvals are the two relief wells that are being drilled in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Expanded Fishing Restriction
NOAA has modified and expanded the boundaries of the closed fishing area to better reflect the current location of the oil spill, and is extending the fishing restriction until May 17. The closed area now represents slightly less than 4.5 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. The original closure boundaries, which took effect last Sunday, encompassed less than three percent. This leaves many areas that are still available for fishing. The vast majority of Gulf waters has not been affected by the oil spill and continues to support productive fisheries and tourism activities. NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and her staff will continue to meet with fishermen in the oil-affected area to listen to their concerns and share with them what NOAA scientists have learned so far about how the oil might be affecting their potential seafood catch.

Fish & Wildlife Monitoring
More than 160 Fish & Wildlife Service personnel are involved in the oil spill response in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the west coast of Florida. Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams (SCAT) continue to assess and determine how cleanup will be conducted, and oversee cleanup operations.
FWS personnel continue to conduct overflights of the Chandeleur Islands today to monitor the status of the brown pelican colonies. FWS closed the Breton National Wildlife Refuge to public entry. The refuge closure is important to keep the public safe, to minimize disturbance to nesting colonial sea birds, and to allow personnel conducting cleanup operations and recovery efforts to work safely and efficiently.

Emergency Food Support
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) met with Louisiana food bank directors to discuss potential need for USDA food support and to assess inventory that might be available for distribution to affected areas. FNS was informed that BP has made a $100,000 contribution to assist with local emergency food needs. FNS discussed income eligibility of potential Louisiana women, infants and children affected by the oil spill with the State of Louisiana. 

Secretary Salazar Oversight Activities
Secretary Salazar continued his oversight activities in a meeting with BP officials in Houston today and met with the manufacturers of the Blowout Preventer (BOP) device to discuss the damaged wellhead. The BOPs contain mechanisms designed to shut off the flow of oil and gas, either on command or automatically, when a wellhead is damaged or experiences a blowout. Federal and company engineers are seeking to determine why the BOP atop the Deepwater Horizon well failed to activate as designed.
Secretary Salazar directed U.S. Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt to remain at BP’s command center to help coordinate the joint efforts of federal scientists and BP engineers who are working on several technological challenges and approaches to securing the damaged well head, capturing the leak and controlling the spill.

Aerial Dispersant Missions
Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew multiple missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight.

Successful Controlled Burn
Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation for the second consecutive day. As part of a coordinated response that combines tactics deployed above water, below water, offshore, and close to coastal areas, controlled burns efficiently remove oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife. 

By the Numbers to Date:
• Personnel were quickly deployed and more than 10,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.
• Nearly 270 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
• Approximately 829,000 of feet of boom (regular and sorbent) have been deployed to contain the spill—and 1.3 million feet are available.
• More than 1.9 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
• More than 282,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed. More than 317,000 gallons are available.
• 10 staging areas have been set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Panama City, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., Venice, La.).
Resources:
• For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
• To contact the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center, call (985) 902-5231.
• To report oiled shoreline, call (866) 448-5816. Volunteer opportunities can also be found here.

• To submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system, or to submit alternative response technology, services, or products, call 281-366-5511.
• To report oiled wildlife, call (866) 557-1401. Messages will be checked hourly.
• For information about validated environmental air and water sampling results, visit www.epa.gov/bpspill.
• For National Park Service updates about potential park closures, resources at risk, and NPS actions to protect vital park space and wildlife, visit http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/oil-spill-response.htm.
• To file a claim, or report spill-related damage, call BP’s helpline at (800) 440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. For those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution, can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here.